Syd Carpenter: Portraits of Our Places exhibition at the Michener Art Museum

The Michener Art Museum announce its newest exhibition Syd Carpenter: Portraits of our Places. On view in the Beans Gallery from October 16, 2020 through February 28, 2021, this showing of sculptor and ceramicist Syd Carpenter investigates issues of identity, memory and ownership of land through sculpted portraits of African American gardens and farms. This is the first solo exhibition of Carpenter’s work at the Michener Art Museum.

This exhibition of 11 large-scale pieces highlights Carpenter’s connection between sculpture and the art of gardening. Carpenter, a passionate gardener, has a deep personal connection to farms and gardens that stems from her grandmother Indiana Hutson’s beautiful and bountiful vegetable garden in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During WWII, Indiana provided for her family of seven children with the produce grown in her garden. It was in the ornamental garden of her mother Ernestine Carpenter where Carpenter first experienced the satisfaction of tending the land.

In 2012, after identifying several locations recommended to her by the Southern African American Organic Farmers Network, Carpenter visited several properties in Georgia, South Carolina, and the Gullah Islands. After talking with the farmers and observing and photographing details of their farms and gardens, she returned to her Philadelphia studio to produce a series of sculptures. Each of these works are named for the garden and farm owners in order to assert and honor their individuality in the face of historical erasure. Combining botanical imagery and vernacular forms like clothes pins, tools, fences and sheds, Carpenter’s sculptures offer an evocative statement of creativity and resilience by representing in sculpture the importance of African American stewardship of the land.

Syd Carpenter: Portraits of Our Places is generously supported by Dr. Lamberto Bentivoglio and Barbara Donnelly Bentivoglio, and Silverman Family Partnerships.

For more information, visit MichenerArtMuseum.org or call 215.340.9800.

Syd Carpenter (b. 1953), Ella Mae Edwards, 2009. Ceramic, acrylic, graphite, wood. 24 x 20 x 6 inches. Michener Art Museum. Gift of the Artist.

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