Structures & Patterns: The Remnants of Our Work
35 Canal St, Lewiston, ME 04240
July 15 - October 28, 2017
Lewiston, ME - Structures and Patterns: The Remnants of Our Work is an exhibition conceived and curated by artist Janice L. Moore which includes her oil paintings and the work of photographer Mark Marchesi. She incorporated historic artifacts she chose from Museum L-A’s collection to create temporary sculptures and selected historical photographs from the Museum’s collection to provide a narrative through time of the work and the community of people who did the work.
On view from July 15-October 28, Structures and Patterns: The Remnants of Our Work gave visitors the opportunity to see the actual tools and artifacts used in the work that went on at Bates Mill. Mark’s large format photographs are made using traditional processes. Moore wanted viewers to see the subtle beauty of his labor intensive process. She sought him out because they share a common sense of urgency for capturing their subjects before they change or fade away.
Museum L-A had been a working textile mill and retains the character and patina from many years of use. She felt it was really important to highlight this repurposed industrial site for this show. Viewers were able to make connections and see the artifacts in a new way, as pieces of art with a history. Members of the Lewiston community could view the relics and art while learning and/or remembering what went on in this space and also imagine its’ potential for new use. For the creative community, it showed artists looking back in a contemporary way and utilizing non traditional art spaces to show their work with the purpose of connecting what was, what is, and what could be next.
Moore developed a panel discussion “New Patterns: Planning the Future of our New Work” which was held on October 18 and included members of the community, business owners, nonprofit organizations and creative entrepreneurs. Each voice brought an important perspective to a conversation about the economic future of the City of Lewiston. The discussion highlighted the significant impact of the growing creative economy, in addition to how these industrial structures could help shape Lewiston’s future landscape. Panelists included:
Steve Bromage, Executive Director of Maine Historical Society
Janice L. Moore, guest curator and artist
Misty Parker, economic Development Specialist at the City of Lewiston
Adilah Muhammad, Principal of Scorecard Strategic Planning and Research
Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Executive Director of Museum L-A
The panel was moderated by Beckie Conrad President and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Panelists discussed their ideas and visions for what their city and this space could be.
“Museum L-A believes that rather than push ideas at our visitors, we strive to pull ideas from them,” says Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Executive Director of Museum L-A. “We will use imagination to envision the community that meets their needs and the needs of generations to come.”
Throughout the exhibit, Museum L-A, in collaboration with the Maine Historical Society, captured stories and memories for My Maine Stories for the Maine Memory Network collection. Museum visitors were encouraged to share their memories of the Mills of Maine.
This project was made possible with generous support from Talley-O Design, Platz Associates, Center Street Dental and Kimball Street Studios.
Special thanks to: Misty Parker, Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Tyson Pease, The Hive, Joyce Gibson, Robyn Holman, Allen Turgeon, Kevin Callahan, Robert Caron, Edwige Charlot and yhr many people who provided knowledge and direction.
Artworks above: Museum L-A archival photographs, Lower Bates Canal by Janice L. Moore & Cowan Mill by Mark Marchesi
Photographs by Kyle Dubay Photography.
Mills and factories are a central element of our visual landscape in Maine, but often go unnoticed. These buildings evolve in response to the growth and decline of industry. Their complex patterns and structures tell a story about the work that happened there. We pass by these structures every day, but may not really see them. Visual artists tend to focus on Maine's natural landscape -- forests and coastline and rivers -- and may look past the patterns and structures of brick, mortar and steel that are a dominant feature in many of our communities.
In Lewiston, Auburn, and other Maine communities, thousands of people worked in the mills, but the cutting, carding, spinning, and weaving machines are largely silent now. The sights and sounds and smells of work in the mills live only in the memory of the last generation to work there, a generation that, as it passes, will take with it our understanding of the real, original purpose of the structures and patterns we see in the mills today. These structures and patterns are the remnants of their work.
This exhibition includes work from two Maine artists -- Janice L. Moore and Mark Marchesi -- who interpret Maine's industrial landscape in two media: Moore in oil-on-canvas paintings and Marchesi in large format color photographs. In her industrial landscapes, Moore asks us to "see the impact of industrial structures as part of our visual environment in Maine." Marchesi looks beyond the mills to “the residential neighborhoods that encircled the mills, and the waterways that were the lifeblood of both.” An important element of the exhibition -- spindles, carts, cheeses, lasts, slubbers, and photographs of mill workers from the Museum L-A historical archives -- help tell a visual story acknowledging the mill workers and their work. The artists and the exhibition seek to evoke a sense of reverence for these places by elevating the mill buildings to the level of importance they deserve.
Structures & Patterns: The Remnants of Our Work speaks to the ideas of work, usefulness, purpose and repurpose. Situated in Museum L-A, a repurposed space in the Bates Mill Complex, the paintings and photographs provide a point of entry for visitors to understand abandoned or repurposed mills as works of art. If we can see the beauty in these structures, it might help to connect us with the many layers of meaning these factories and mill have in our lives. It can help us remember. It might help inform us what could be next.
Copyright © 2019 Janice L. Moore