Category Archives: art

Amy Stacey Curtis: 9 walks

“Some Context (Part 1 of 2)”
By Amy Stacey Curtis

In 1998, I began what would be an 18-year commitment to art-making, nine solo-biennial exhibits from the year 2000 to 2016. In the end, I will have installed 81 large-in-scope, temporary, interactive installations in the vast mills of eight or nine Maine towns. Each solo biennial explores a different theme, while inviting audience to perpetuate its multiple installations.

I committed to this 18-year project to convey our interconnectedness, that we affect everyone and everything while everyone and everything affects us, no matter how small or fleeting the contact. I examine this concept through nine broad related themes—experience (2000), movement (2002), change (2004), sound (2006), light (2008), time (2010), space (2012), matter (2014), and memory (2016)—in hopes that my exploration is thorough, the total of all biennials’ imagery making a cohesive whole.

Three of the video works presented as part of “9 walks” at the Portland Museum of Art, are taken from three previous solo-biennial exhibits: forward II (from CHANGE in 2004 at Brunswick’s Fort Andross), forward V (from TIME in 2010 at Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill), and forward VI (from SPACE in 2012 at Winthrop’s former Carleton Woolen Mill). My exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art gives me opportunity to push even further/learn even more from the ideas behind these works.

Amy Stacey Curtis, Still from "9-hour walk (III)," 2013, video. Courtist of the artist. Copyright Amy Stacey Curtis. Photo copyright Amy Nesbitt.

Amy Stacey Curtis, Process still from 9-hour walk (II), 2013, video. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright Amy Stacey Curtis. Photo copyright Amy Nesbitt.

I am currently working toward my eighth of the nine biennials, MATTER, open for participation October 4-24, 2014 throughout 15,000 to 26,000 square feet of one of Maine’s vast abandoned mill spaces. As with my previous biennials, MATTER will comprise nine large-in-scope, interactive works—each an audience activated experience.

Each solo biennial is a 22-month process. Within the first 5 months of MATTER’s 22-month process (which spanned February 1 through June 21, 2013), I devised its nine installation concepts and began a series of drawings which also support the concept of matter (these happen to be on view at June Fitzpatrick Gallery through November 2, 2013). For the next 15 months, I continue to fundraise, and to bring my installations to fruition while scouting/securing the right space for the work, the space determining the final configuration of several installations. During months 19 and 20 (August and September 2014): I clean and prepare the mill space; transport materials from my studio; install the work…

The Maine community is especially engaged during this time and the exhibit itself, as each biennial re-energizes and brings attention to one of its historic mills. The biennial is open for participation for three weeks within the 21st month (October 2014). During the 22nd month (November 2014), I organize my storage and documentation (update website, video, artist materials, talk, etc.). Then, I rest for two months before beginning the 22-month process for my ninth and final solo biennial, MEMORY.

As with my previous biennials, many of MATTER’s installations require participants’ physical touch, effect or perpetuation while others function through active and purposeful perception. Each installation is accompanied by instructions, an integral part of the experience. Audience is asked to manipulate, maintain, enter, notice, distinguish, recognize–challenged to contemplate matter in new ways (”matter” being something, object, substance, that occupies space, has weight, has gravity, has inertia, has definite or indefinite quantity).

flux IV, 99 spruce posts, steel, audience, 10.6.12-10.26.12 .

The seventh of nine solo-biennial exhibits of installation, SPACE (October 6-26, 2012), was nine interactive installations installed throughout 3 floors (27,500 s.f.) of Winthrop, Maine's Winthrop Commerce Center (formerly Carleton Woolen Mill).

Without the audience’s careful participation, my work is unfinished. My biennials’ installations, in a way, are given over to the audience once each exhibit opens to the public. The work is no longer my own, rather, for each participant, an introspective experience, as I invite participants to touch, move, maintain, change, to be inside, part of, or in close proximity to my work.

In giving my work over to my audience, it requires from me a certain balance of control and surrender. Each installation has a desired progression and result, but through the relinquishing of my work, it sometimes proceeds in a contradictory way. The audience does not always follow instructions, sometimes through interpretation, sometimes through a kind of internal rebellion. This has always been part of my work, and an interesting, powerful contrast to the control I try to maintain with my instructions. In the end, whatever happens, happens.

Following each biennial, my installations exist only through documentation, dialogue, and memory.

Because of the independent nature of these projects, the only ways to know the whens and wheres of MATTER and then MEMORY, is to “like” me on Facebook, or better, to be added to my e-mail list or mailing list. Please write me at to add yourself to one or both of these lists. If you have missed my first 7 solo biennials, they are well documented on my website:

21st-Century Maker

By Julia Einstein
Assistant Director of Family and Studio Learning

This month’s Artist Intervention was designed by 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work artist Crystal Cawley. On Friday, July 12 she will transform a museum space into an artist’s studio. Cawley’s work is about her love for material as she collects then manipulates books, postcards, buttons, maps, and fabric into three-dimensional sculpture. You may have seen her summer exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art (CMCA) (on view through July 16!) as part of the exhibition, Dress Shop or in the May issue of Maine Home + Design. Here is a behind the scenes interview on her upcoming Artist Intervention.

Tell us about your Artist Intervention.
The things I make involve laborious—some would say tedious—processes like hand sewing, spinning thread, or some other method of putting things together that requires repetitive action. I will sew on a few pieces at the dining room table of the McLellan House, like my grandmother worked at the old dining table in her basement, where she made beautiful braided rugs out of outgrown worn wool clothing

What is your inspiration?
I start with something tangible. I enjoy responding to what’s already there, something with its own visual history that becomes an important part of what I make of it.

Why did you chosen the McLellan House as the location for your Artist Intervention?
When I visited the galleries to think about what I might do for this program, I wandered around noticing which spaces I felt most comfortable in and where I would enjoy being and working for a few hours. These included a few of the third floor galleries with Contemporary and Modern Art (there were some superb minimalist works to see there) and some of the rooms in the McLellan House (where I would be contentedly surrounded by sumptuous colors and opulent patterns). I decided on the house because the rooms there are more contained and quieter—I get a little worn out and distracted when there’s constant ambient sound as there is in large galleries made of stone and wood.

The Artist Interventions series is about interaction between visitors and art. What are your expectations for the evening?
I am curious about what might happen when visitors come into the dining room and see me embroidering something. Will anyone sit down and start a conversation or ask a question? I am open to talking with anyone who comes in, but I’ll keep sewing as we speak.

Artist Interventions: Crystal Cawley is on Friday, July 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during PMA’s Free Friday evening.

To Do: Artist Interventions with Adriane Herman

By Julia Einstein
Assistant Director of Family and Studio Learning

On Friday, June 28 come the PMA with your to-do lists, grocery lists, list of books to read or any list in your pocket! This month’s Artist Interventions was designed by 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work artist Adriane Herman. She and her team of “markers” will take over a gallery on the third floor with an assembly line, crossing items off your list.

Image credit:

Adriane and I talked about her upcoming Artist Intervention.

You’ve chosen to be near the painting Brushstroke VI by Roy Lichtenstein…
I am excited that the event will take place near Lichtenstein’s relief sculpture because it satirizes and pays homage to the great American tradition of personality-infused marks. I have to credit PMA Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art, Jessica May, who suggested Lichtenstein’s piece as a natural complement to my focus on the marks made when we cross things off our lists. May’s savvy connection is just one reason I’m so excited that the PMA has a contemporary curator and feel so lucky to have had this kind of collaboration from the museum.

And your “markers”?
Yes, there will be a panel of artists to cross items off people’s “to do” lists. It’s a kind of hypothetical public service, a “what if,” if you will.

You selected a great list of artists for your panel. (Lucinda Bliss, Bridget Spaeth, Clint Fulkerson, Alison Hildreth, Ayumi Horie, Jeff Kellar, Deborah Wing-Sproul, Henry Wolyniec, and Alix Lambert)
I’m inviting people to bring pieces of paper to the museum that depict, document, and essentially make up their lives, and offering them the opportunity to have items on those lists crossed out with dynamic marks by artists. The whole thing is a little silly and exaggerated—forced, you might even say! This is an exercise that might give people the chance to experience the relief and release of having everything “done.”

The Artist Intervention series is about interactive engagement in the galleries between visitors, art, and artists. What are your thoughts on this?
On one level I am simply agog about all things to do with lists and I want to talk to people about their lists; on another level I am interested in how this event could help some people see that their lives are relevant to an artist’s work and that my working process, if not finished work, might help them see their own lives in a new and possibly fruitful light. It doesn’t get better than that for me—that kind of symbiosis. We’ll see what happens!

Adriane Herman’s latest work on lists is about the mark made by crossing-out. She studies the details of each crossed-out line, looking at the gesture and for the inherent abstraction. PMA visitors can check out her exhibition, Finish Lines, at Rose Contemporary Gallery in Portland. Make plans to see her work in the 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work when it opens on October 3!