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  • Sculpter Tony Feher Transforms Contemporary and Medieval Galleries with Installations at Worcester Art Museum

    (WORCESTER, Mass.) - Everyday objects become works of art in sculptural installations by New York-based artist Tony Feher on view at the Worcester Art Museum, Thursday, April 25 through Sunday, Aug. 11.

    Feher (b. 1956) has become a consistently challenging voice among his generation of sculptors. Rooted in the legacy of minimalism, his art focuses on the intrinsic character of things that have been discarded, such as bottles, jars, pushpins, plastic soda cases, wooden crates, and plastic bags. His processes of stacking, dangling and aligning repeated objects celebrate the work of minimalists of a previous generation, including Carl Andre, Jackie Ferrara, Eva Hesse, and Donald Judd.

    Inspired by the architecture of his surroundings, Feher conceived his Worcester exhibition in response to two sites at either end of the Museum: the large, symmetrical Contemporary Art Gallery and the intimate and darkened medieval Chapter House. During the week of April 22, Feher will be in residence at the Museum to install his art. On Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m., Worcester Art Museum will host Feher for an artist's talk and opening reception. The event is free and open to the public.

    “By virtue of the utter simplicity of his work, Feher invites us to reconsider what sculpture can be,” said Curator of Contemporary Art Susan Stoops. “The sculpture urges us to slow down and appreciate the incidental. By nature of their two unique settings in the Museum, I hope the Worcester project will not only foster a reading of the contemporary within the context of history but also heighten the temporal issues Feher's art so eloquently embraces.” In the Contemporary Gallery, Feher has chosen to reconfigure two recent floor sculptures. Enjoy (2001), a massive cube comprised of 350 stacked red plastic soda cases and standing nearly seven feet tall, will share the space with Maybe (2001), a “scatter” piece of aluminum-painted produce crates and plastic bottles.

    “Stacking,” Feher explained, “is a basic and primal activity. You put children in a room with some things, and they stack them on top of one another. It's something that humans do… The ziggurats of Mesopotamia and the pyramids of Egypt come from that same basic, primal understanding of geometry and that sense of stacking.”

    The objects in Maybe are arranged on the floor in no discernible pattern, but with a sense of order. “The flimsy produce crates and plastic bottles dispersed across the room in Maybe take on the rhythms and reflections of an urban architectural sprawl,” Stoops described. “The floor-to-knee experience, in contrast to the height of Enjoy, suggests paths and borders with various possibilities for movement and trespass. Passing through it, you might periodically pause to try to locate where you belong or see where you might be going.”

    A companion installation will be conceived for the Worcester Art Museum's 12th-century Chapter House, the first medieval building brought to the United States. Adapting a signature work in his oeuvre, Feher will suspend clear plastic bottles with varying lengths of rope. The sculpture will interact with the space's architectural features-monolithic columns and vaulted ceilings-and its unique constraints: the limestone walls cannot be marred or pierced, and the room's only light filters in through stained-glass windows and the adjacent Renaissance Court.

    “These works, in contrast to his stacked or scattered floor pieces, function like 'invisible volumes' or paths of light through an interior. Yet, like all Feher's work, they too investigate traditional sculptural issues of density, mass, composition, and scale,” Stoops said. Feher's recent projects include a museum-wide environment incorporating his signature plastic bottles at the Center for Curatorial Studies Museum at Bard College; a solo exhibition at D'Amelio Terras gallery in New York, and the "Hammer Projects" at the UCLA Hammer Museum. Complete biographical information on Feher can be found at his gallery's website: www.damelioterras.com

    This exhibition is sponsored in part by LEF Foundation and the Don & Mary Melville Contemporary Art Fund. The media sponsor is Worcester Magazine. All works are courtesy the artist and D'Amelio Terras, New York.

    Museum Background

    A cultural jewel of New England, the Worcester Art Museum first opened to the public in 1898. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Its extensive four-season studio arts program enrolls 6,000 adult and youth students each year. Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (sponsored by Commerce Bank), and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and full-time college students with current ID, and FREE for Members and all youth 17 and under. Admission is also FREE for everyone on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m.-noon (sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company). The Museum is located at 55 Salisbury St., Worcester, Mass., easily accessible from the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), Route 290 and Route 9. Expanded parking is available near entrances on Salisbury, Lancaster and Tuckerman streets. For more information, call (508) 799-4406.

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