Energy in All Directions

Energy in All Directions brings rarely seen artworks and new acquisitions from The Tang Teaching Museum collection together in dialogue with objects from the Shaker Museum’s extensive holdings to celebrate the life and legacy of artist and gallerist Hudson (1950–2014). Hudson and the Shakers valued acceptance, equality, and artistry, and both built new communities that shared common themes of inclusion, interconnectedness, and innovation. They were both radicals in their time.

The Shakers formed under the leadership of Ann Lee (1736–1784), a working-class woman from Manchester, England. Shaker communities settled in the American Northeast and based their ideals around community, equality, simplicity. They believed that God was equal parts man and woman, and that Ann Lee was the female equivalent of Jesus. Because of these beliefs, the community saw all individuals as equal regardless of race, gender, or physical ability. Women and African Americans, in particular, were equal and full participants within the community, a revolutionary stance in the early days of the American republic. Their furniture, buildings, and tools such as baskets, chairs, and textiles embody the Shaker’s emphasis on accessibility and on communal rather than individual expression.

Hudson founded Feature Inc. in Chicago in 1984, later moving to New York in 1988. Through his gallery he gave a platform for new works by influential artists such as Tom Friedman, Roy McMakin, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Kay Rosen, and Nancy Shaver. Hudson supported independent artists of all kinds, choosing artists not for their art world success but for the quality and originality of their work. He cultivated a community of artists, collectors, critics, and friends, and made his gallery space accessible and intimate, for example positioning his office desk by the gallery entrance and providing comfortable seating for visitors. His diverse interests spread beyond the art world to Indian tantra drawings, Moroccan Berber carpets, and designers like Alpana Bawa.

The exhibition, in honoring Hudson and the Shakers’ integral shared values, is an invitation to explore what a community is—and can be—in this time of COVID-19, social distancing, and health and safety precautions that will likely delay the exhibition’s public opening until next summer. Over the nine months of the show we will rotate some works and rehang others in different ensembles — using the gallery as a space for research. The online version of the show will expand with installation views, oral histories by exhibiting artists, and more, along with a schedule of online public programs that will include artist dialogues, curator’s tours, and a special commissioning project of new poetry and music created in response to the exhibition.

Artists include (to date): Lisa Beck, Alex Brown, Lucky DeBellevue, Jason Fox, Tom Friedman, Sam Gordon, Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, Bill Komoski, Kinke Kooi, Michael Lazarus, Judy Linn, Andrew Masullo, Roy McMakin, Douglas Melini, David Moreno, Lillian Mulero, Joshua Podoll, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Nathaniel Robinson, Kay Rosen, Alexander Ross, Raja Babu Sharma, Nancy Shaver, Jim Shaw, Aaron Sinift, Cary Smith, John Torreano, and B. Wurtz.

Energy in All Directions includes a poetry and music commissioning project created in partnership with Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Academy of American Poets. Contemporary poets including Hanif Abdurraqib, April Bernard, Nickole Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Claudia Castro Luna, Victoria Chang, Forrest Gander, Ilya Kaminsky, Eileen Myles, Francine Prose, and TC Tolbert crafted new writings in response to the art and ideas in the exhibition. Their words will be incorporated into a new composition for percussion and voice by composer Ken Frazelle to be performed by soprano Lindsay Kesselman, and New York City-based ensemble Sandbox Percussion in the exhibition at the Tang Teaching Museum in spring 2021.

A catalogue for the exhibition will be produced in 2021, including documentation of the installation and performance along with the commissioned writings.

Energy in All Directions is part of All Together Now, a regional collections-sharing project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation to celebrate the Tang Teaching Museum’s twentieth anniversary. The project will bring rarely-seen works from The Tang Teaching Museum collection to the public in collaboration with the Shaker Museum, Ellsworth Kelly Studio, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Hyde Collection, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, among others.

Exhibition Name
Energy in All Directions
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Place
Malloy Wing
Dates
Oct 10, 2020 - Jun 13, 2021
Curators
Energy in All Directions is curated by Ian Berry in collaboration with the Shaker Museum.
Artists
Lisa Beck, Alex Brown, Lucky DeBellevue, Jason Fox, Tom Friedman, Sam Gordon, Jim Isermann, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, Bill Komoski, Kinke Kooi, Michael Lazarus, Judy Linn, Andrew Masullo, Roy McMakin, Douglas Melini, David Moreno, Lillian Mulero, Joshua Podoll, Charles Ray, Richard Rezac, Nathaniel Robinson, Kay Rosen, Alexander Ross, Raja Babu Sharma, Nancy Shaver, Jim Shaw, Aaron Sinift, Cary Smith, John Torreano, B. Wurtz
Student Staff
Scarlett Han
Student Advisory Council, past: Exhibitions Assistant, Tang Guide, Summer Volunteer
Lily warshaw
Lily Warshaw
Student Advisory Council, past: Exhibitions Assistant, Summer Volunteer

This list of contemporary artworks from the Tang Museum and objects from the Shaker Museum collection includes works currently on view in the gallery as well as those that will be part of future gallery rotations or illustrated in the catalogue.

While the gallery is closed to the public, the exhibition page will be used to research and explore ideas and connections between the artists and the Shakers.

View or download the project list!

Installation Views, October 2020

About the Shakers

About shakers image
Anthony Imbert, Shakers Near Lebanon, State of New York, 1829–1835, lithograph, Shaker Museum collection, 2019.7.1

The Shakers were guided by core values of conviction, integrity, inclusion, and innovation. They were early advocates of gender equality, welcomed African Americans, practiced pacifism, and put community needs above individual ones. They were successful entrepreneurs known for their various manufacturing enterprises, their creation of beautiful objects that have fascinated generations of admirers, and their significant impact on modern design and architecture. The Shakers made important contributions to religious thought, progressive causes, music, craft, agriculture, and industry in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1774 Ann Lee, the charismatic daughter of a blacksmith, brought a small group of followers to the United States from Manchester, England. Known officially as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, the Shakers moved upstate in 1776 and settled near Albany in what is now Watervliet. In 1787 Mount Lebanon was established as the leading community of a network that would spread across the eastern half of the United States.

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The Shakers believed society could be perfected and a paradise on earth created through communal living, gender and racial equality, pacifism, confession of sin, celibacy, and separation from the world. The Shakers’ religious and administrative leadership consisted of a man and a woman who held equal authority at each level. They worshiped with their own unique songs and dances, and brought spiritual practice into their everyday tasks. They were known for their seed and medicinal enterprises, and for manufacturing brooms, chairs, baskets, cloaks, bonnets, and round and oval bent-wood boxes.

—Shaker Museum

Learn more about the Shakers and the Shaker Museum collection.

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Shaker Object Lessons

Learn more about Shaker objects featured in Energy in All Directions. Blog posts by Jerry Grant, Director of Collections and Research at the Shaker Museum.
1950.2727.1  1 bee box
Unrecorded artist(s), North Family, Mount Lebanon, New York, Swarm box, c. 1860, pine, basswood, paint, linen, oak, walnut, 18 7/8 x 13 ½ x 14 inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1950.2727.1

The Shakers were at the forefront of beekeeping both in their New England communities and in the West. Early on they understood the importance of the role bees played in pollinating their crops and, of course, enjoyed the honey and made use of beeswax.

The swarm box was used by beekeepers to transport wild swarms of bees to their manufactured hives. When a swarm was located – usually hanging on a branch of a tree or bush – the back of the box was opened to receive the swarm. To get the swarm in the box either the swarm was shaken until the queen fell into the box or the beekeeper would reach into the swarm, retrieve the queen, and put her in the box. Once the queen was in the box the rest of the swarm would follow. The swarm box, made of pine and basswood with an oak handle, is covered with a finely woven linen to provide ventilation during transport. Once back at the hives the bees were transferred into a prepared hive. The two holes in the box apparently let the bees come and go until they decide to move into the new hive.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A circular rug with various patterns on it.
Elvira Curtis Hulett (attributed), Church Family, Hancock, Massachusetts, Multicolored knitted rug, c. 1893, knit fabric, 56 ¾ x 56 ¾ inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1957.8574.1
The Knit Rugs of Elvira Hulett

A small group of rugs, similar in their style of manufacture and aesthetic features, are associated with Elvira Hulett, a Shaker Sister who lived her life at Hancock, Massachusetts.

Sister Elvira lived a long and useful life among the Hancock Shakers. She resided with Hancock’s West Family for nearly a half century, moving into the Church Family where she worked as a weaver, baker, tailoress, and eventually the Eldress of the family. Her mother, Charlotte, died in the faith as did her brother Chester, who served as a trustee at the West Family. The other three children, Charlotta (called Hortency in her Shaker life), Walter, and Theodore all apparently left in their youth.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A deep rectangular woven basket.
Unrecorded artist(s), Canterbury or Enfield, New Hampshire, Basket, c. 1835, black ash, oilcloth, 23 5/8 x 40 5/8 x 30 1/8 inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1950.4164.1
The Mysterious Basket and its Lining

Ascertaining the original use of a particular basket is difficult. In the absence of historical documentation museums often use terms such as utility basket, carrying basket, work basket, and *fruit basket. Sometimes the use is more specifically identified – apple basket, chip basket, or laundry basket. The function of the basket shown here is hard to define. Its size–an interior volume close to eleven and a half cubic feet–suggests it was a work basket or utility basket used to carry or store a large quantity of something. Its lining suggests either that whatever was put in it (e.g. wool) should not be allowed to catch on the rough strips of the uprights or weavers, or something small, such as grain, that might otherwise leak through the holes in the basket. But, even the lightest wheat bran weighs twenty pounds per cubic foot and would make the full basket weigh nearly 250 pounds.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

A wooden, high-backed wheelchair.
Unrecorded artist(s), Mount Lebanon, New York, Wheelchair, 1830, birch, maple, beech, ash, oak, copper, iron, brass, chestnut, walnut, 47 ¼ x 26 x 27 ¼ inches, Shaker Museum collection, 1957.8417.1

The Shakers made a sincere effort to accommodate the needs of all members of their community, including young, old, and disabled people. This wheelchair is a fine example of endeavors to ensure members with special needs could participate in community life. The chair, while not a suitable vehicle for a Shaker to transport himself or herself outdoors on flagstone walks, was certainly useful in moving around within the dwelling house. Several items in the Museum’s collection speak to the care of those with specific physical needs: an orthopedic shoe, canes, and a walker.

For the full text, visit the Shaker Museum’s blog.

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