Currier Museum Of Art’s New Exhibition Series: ‘Distant Conversations’


Download PDF

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Currier Museum of Art has announced a new series of exhibitions titled “Distant Conversations.” The series explores intergenerational dialogues and artistic conversations between practitioners who have not necessarily met in real life but whose work similarly resonates despite their differences. The cycle is curated by the museum’s chief curator, Lorenzo Fusi. The first installment of the series, “Distant Conversations: Ella Walker and Betty Woodman,” will run to October 22. The exhibition combines the work of British artist Ella Walker (b 1993, lives and works in London) and American artist Betty Woodman (1930-2018), who use art historical references in their work to revisit a male-dominated history of Western art and subvert its dominant narrative.

Woodman’s art is ambiguously positioned between the world of ceramics, sculpture, installation and painting. Globally recognized for her experimentation and inventiveness, Woodman greatly contributed to the revaluation of ceramics in contemporary art discourse and to its repositioning in art institutions in the United States and overseas. Italian art was an important influence for Woodman, who spent long periods of time in the country. Her knowledge of art history was vast and her curiosity all-encompassing, spanning from the Etruscan and Greco-Roman civilizations to Modernism with an eye on countries such as Japan, Turkey and China, globally known for the excellence of their ceramics and sophistication of their glazing and firing techniques. Woodman’s interest in figuration and the history of painting are also evident in her art, making the association with Walker’s work particularly stringent and convincing. During her long career, Woodman exhibited globally and created increasingly ambitious projects that were architectural in both complexity and scale.

“Bedroom Scene,” Ella Walker, 2022, acrylic dispersion, pigment, chalk and pencil on linen, 83 by 55 by 8 inches. ©Ella Walker Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York Photo: Jason Wyche.

Similarly, Walker’s monumental and yet evanescent canvases revisit the European medieval and Renaissance frescoes tradition, introducing the presence of women who defiantly challenge conventional representations of feminine in the arts and gently refuse to conform to the viewers’ expectations. There is something slightly disturbing and uncanny in the posture, appearances and actions of the women that animate Walker’s images. Her paintings instantly evoke the crisp and almost surreal luminosity of Italian master Piero della Francesca and the clarity of the revolutionary protoRenaissance painter Giotto, whose frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel (Padua, Italy) dating back to 1305 Walker directly references in the series of paintings titled “Theatre of Virtues and Vices” that will be exhibited at the Currier.

Walker’s imagery, very much like Woodman’s, collapses conventional readings of time. Both artists blend multiple styles to develop a visual language that becomes uniquely their own. The artistic dialogue between Walker and Woodman is recreated in the galleries by juxtaposing their work in a suggestive and poetic manner without rigid separations. The exhibition features a dozen artworks by each artist, including ceramics, installations, canvases, and works on paper.

The Currier Museum of Art is at 150 Ash Street. For information, or 603669-6144


“Santa Maria della Quercia,” Betty Woodman, 2005, glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, acrylic paint, terra sigillata and canvas, 89 by 86 by 9 inches. Courtesy Woodman Family Foundation and David Kordansky Gallery. ©Woodman Family Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.