Starting in the 1960s in rural Nebraska, Emery Blagdon (1907–1986) built an increasingly dense environment filled with sculptures made of baling wire and aluminum foil, brightly colored paintings, hand-painted lightbulbs, salts, and other organic matter. Impacted by personal tragedy, Blagdon worked for nearly thirty years on this constantly changing installation called “The Healing Machine.” His intent was to channel the earth’s energies to alleviate pain and illness.
The Healing Machine could not be preserved in situ and is now in the Arts Center’s collection.
Harry Bertoia (1915–1978), a prominent Modernist designer, made hundreds of sounding sculptures from the early 1960s until his death in 1978. These works are known collectively as Sonambients. He installed several sculptures in a stone barn on his property for performances that have been described as spiritual, enlightening, and transformative.
Shannon R. Stratton collaborated with the Arts Center on AN ENCOUNTER WITH PRESENCE. For the exhibition, she draws connections between Bertoia’s Sonambient metal sculptures and Blagdon’s “pretties” made of aluminum foil and baling wire. Although operating from very different vantage points, Blagdon and Bertoia both built deeply moving environments designed to connect them with nature and its energies. She facilitated the inclusion of Harry Bertoia’s “Sonambient” sound and sculptures and an original composition imagining the sound inside Blagdon’s art environment by sound artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
Shannon Stratton is the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, NYC. With specific interest in fiber/material studies, regionalism, art activism, and ideas surrounding amateurism and craft, Stratton responds to the materiality and atmosphere of Emery Blagdon’s “The Healing Machine.”
You’re invited to Opening Night in our yearlong series dedicated to artist-built environments!
Seven multidisciplinary exhibitions exploring art environments
Musical performance by Jim White and Paul Fonfara
Followed by DJ and dancing
Members are Free (remember to bring your card for fast check-in)
$15 in advance/$25 at door
Feb. 25, 2017Get Tickets
This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.