‘Abundance’ Exhibit Opens This Weekend at the American Visionary Art Museum


2011 aluminum foil sculpture of Dean Millien “Tin Thing Gorillais part of the new “Abundance” exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum. Photo by Dan Meyers.

At a time when many Americans are complaining about inflation and supply chain disruptions and generally don’t have enough of what they want, the American Visionary Art Museum is opening an exhibit on abundance, seen by visionary artists both in its permanent collection and new to the museum.

“PLENTY: Too Much, Too Little, Just Right,” is the title of the museum’s new themed exhibit, which will be open Saturday, October 8 through September 3, 2023 in the main AVAM building at 800 Key Highway. in Baltimore.

This is the 27th themed “mega-exhibition” in AVAM’s history and the first since founder Rebecca Alban Hoffberger stepped down as director and senior curator in April. The exhibition is curated by Gage Branda, AVAM’s Curatorial and Development Coordinator. Jenenne Whitfield started as AVAM’s new director on September 6, after planning for that show was well underway.

An introductory panel at the start of the show states that it is “a joyful and blatant contemplation of what constitutes true wealth by exploring what lies at the heart of deep satisfaction, productive happiness and gratitude – both individual and collective”.

Visionary or intuitive artists can be good examples of people who find wealth in unexpected places, the introduction points out, as they often create “new worlds” from “modest, even discarded materials – equipped only with their hands, their hearts and their fertile imaginations”.

The ‘Abundance’ exhibition suggests visitors focus on ‘a constant thirst for more’ and connect to a more empowered power fueled by imagination, craftsmanship, ingenuity and an appreciation for ‘the gift of the moment”.

He quotes the philosopher Eckhart Tollé, who said, “Recognizing the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance…. In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget the joy of just being.

Paul Lancaster’s 1997 oil on canvas painting “Still Life with Fruit” is part of the new “Abundance” exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum. Photo by Dan Meyers.

The “Abundance” exhibit contains more than 200 works by people who often make art from everyday materials, including old bottles and jugs, old fabrics, and scraps of wood and metal. One of the first exhibits visitors see is sculptor Dean Millien’s gorilla and other life-size creatures sculpted from foil.

Featuring photos by Edwin Remsberg, the exhibit also looks at urban farmers such as Farmer Chippy of Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm; Lavette and Warren Blue from the Greener Garden; and Denzel Mitchell of the Farm Alliance in Baltimore; as well as the Arabs, who bring fresh produce to areas of the city where grocery stores are scarce or non-existent.

A video celebrates grandmother Tressa Prisbrey, who after the age of 60 built 15 houses from glass bottles she collected from her town’s landfill, installing both the plumbing and the electricity and completing his “bottle village” after the age of 90.

“Anyone can do something with a million dollars,” she said, “but it takes someone with really something to make something out of nothing.”

“Take a respite, for a moment, from our focus on lack – of trust, civility, reliable resources and even access to clean water – to harness our energy towards that great good that can be done with unwavering will to do so,” the exhibit suggests, noting that developer James Rouse once said, “The best way to attack any position is to ask what things would look like if they worked well.”

Whitfield said in a statement that she was excited to join AVAM as the new exhibit opens.

“In today’s society, we are confronted with our own abundance, many of us finding our ‘stuff’ to be unfulfilling, while others who seem lacking, seek to acquire by all means possible. required !” she observed. “The beauty of art is that we can reflect and reflect with joy and reflect on how ENOUGH is!”

Branda and Hoffberger, who co-authored the exhibit text, hope the exhibit will encourage people to change the way they think about what they have and how happy they are with it. They don’t deny that a lot of people are in need, but they also want to see people make the most of what they have, like featured artists do.

“We hope you will feel powerfully inspired by our featured visionary thinkers,” they write, “to have meaningful conversations within yourself; take stock of what you have and reframe your perspective so that – even in the face of limitations – you recognize your own innate talents and gifts, enough to amaze you with new possibilities for greater abundance complemented by copious heaps fun! ”

Ed Gunts


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