Lower Level Galleries
January 26 – April 25, 2021
Artist Kristen Tordella-Williams views time as a layered spiraling continuum, and the themes in her body of artwork revolve around the past’s impact on our present. After exploring the Museum’s archives, its art collection, and its history, Tordella-Williams has created an exhibition that explores Laurel’s lumber industry and the work and domestic lives of those who supported it. The artist was inspired by images from the Museum’s archives that illustrate the lumber camps and railroad cars in which families lived and that would be transported from one camp to another. The common experience of most worker’s domestic lives was inextricably intertwined with their work lives, which parallels many people’s current situations during the pandemic.
Tordella-Williams will install the exhibition in two sections. One gallery will reflect the natural world and the impact of the lumber industry has had on it. Visitors will be immersed in a forest of tree stumps, built of handmade paper and lit from within. These will be surrounded by enlarged prints of archival photographs of Laurel and the lumber industry. Another gallery will feature items installed in a domestic environment that will include decorative arts objects, large-scale handmade paper maps of Laurel’s past, mirrors and altered furniture, and a salon-style installation of fine art featuring workers and nature. Interspersed with the Museum’s objects, burnt books will be hung on the walls. These books will not only reference the fires that plagued the saw mills, but also the challenges that have been historically imposed on our educational system and during the current pandemic. Projected on the wall will be the Laurel Living Archive, a special website produced in conjunction with the exhibition. It will feature submissions from our community of imagery, text, and video that explain how our home and work lives collide and what our experiences have been during the pandemic.
Tordella-Williams earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a master of fine arts from Alfred University in New York. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and has been an artist in residence at Salem Art Works, the Visitor Center Artist Camp, and Franconia Sculpture Park. She teaches drawing, digital arts, sculpture, performance art, and papermaking and is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Millsaps College.
Self-portrait of Kristen Tordella-Williams in her studio
Charles Strange, Portable Dwelling House Being Moved, Eastman Gardiner Lumber Company Camp
Kristen Tordella-Williams, 40 Stumps, 2020, handmade paper, chicken wire, lights
Joseph Birren, Mississippi Pioneer Farmland, 1926, oil on board, a Lauren Rogers Museum of Art purchase, 26.50
Katsushika Hokusai, Mt. Fuji seen from the mountains in the province of Totomi, c. 1824, woodblock print, Gift of Wallace B. Rogers, 27.91