EXCAVATION: Layers of Meaning


Contributing Writer 

Photo: New Bedford Art Museum / Artworks! 


On Thursday, February 13th, the New Bedford Art Museum Hosted one of its monthly AHA Nights.  AHA nights are free for the public to enjoy, and is one of free avenues for the new people to enjoy and experience the art on display at the New Bedford Art Museum / Artworks!.  

There were multiple shows on exhibit on that night, but the biggest on display was the “Layers of meaning” exhibition. This exhibition focuses on artists whose art incorporates various layers. These layers vary from layers of paint applied to canvas, multiple pane of painted glass laid over one another, to layers of trash piled on one another, and then photographed. 

The show, which was curated by Catherine Carter, a guest curator at the museum, primarily features artists who have not been previously exhibited at the museum before. All the artists in this show are form the local, regional area. One such artist, Anthony Falcetta creates art by adding and removing layers of acrylic paint to create a unique mixture of colors and textures. When asked about his art, he stated “I’ve always liked what happens when you put a color over another color, and it turns into this new thing you don’t have a name for.”. As for the textures he says the art reminds him of “weathered buildings and road surfaces, things that are showing the wear of time”.  

Showing off the work of local artists is nothing new for the New Bedford Art Museum. The museum frequently collaborates with the New Bedford Free Public Library, which is located just across the street. The Museum is not a collecting institution, which means it has no permanent art on hand, but they have the “City Gallery” which is for art that comes from the Library, which does have a permanent collection. 

“It is a way for people who come to the Art Museum to realize there is art across the street as well” says Ali Copeland, Art Curator at the Library. “It’s really great to have a working relationship with an institution that is dedicated to showing artists, and have those artists make connections to us as a library.”. The curation on display currently in the City Gallery features many women artists of the city. Currently the collection of the Library is not from a terribly diverse group of artists, but Copeland, their new Curator, is working to remedy that, stating “ [the curator before me] worked really hard to collect more and build the collection in more diverse areas, and I’m planning on furthering that goal”. 

The Museum does far more than simply show off the library’s art. There are frequent collaborations with the public library, including film screenings, all of which are free to attend. Ashley Occhino, the Executive director of the Art Museum, states “We really want to just engage the community”. The Museum holds classes that people can attend about art. If you’re worried about having to pay to get in, there are a variety of events that are open to the public for free, and the museum “honors EBT cards, [and] MassHealth cards”. The library also pays artists who do workshops, demos, or speak at openings at the museum. Occhino says that at the New Bedford Art Museum “We don’t think any artist should work for free  

There is more than one way for an exhibit to be put on at the Museum. The Art museum is an “open call museum”. What this means, as Occhino explains, is that “any working artist has the opportunity to propose an exhibition”. Of course, there is a vetting process, and the decision for someone to be exhibited is not up to just one person. What this does mean is that you, the reader, if you’re ambitious enough, may be able to get your art shown at the museum. However, you can’t simply put anything up there, as Occhino explains “We look for art that basically creates and experience and says something” “It has to say something”. 

Altogether the AHA night on the 13th was a wonderful example of the various activities and collaborations going on at the New Bedford Museum of art. The purpose of these is to engage the community in the local world of art, and the art world in general. I would recommend the reader to investigate the next free event at the Museum and see for themselves what all the fuss is about. 


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