Monday, March 5, 2018

Shelter in Plates

There's an excellent show of five contemporary New England artists at the Fitchburg Art Museum titled Fantastical, Political. As I wrote in my review for Art New England, the show features "appealing surfaces and seemingly quaint ornamentations that disclose charged political statements and barbed social commentaries that linger like unhealed wounds." You'll have to wait for the issue to come out to read the rest (I know, you CAN'T WAIT!!!), but while I was checking out the show, I also discovered a treasure of Boston contemporary art of which I knew nothing. It wasn't part of my piece for ANE, so I decided to document it and share it here.

“Shelter in Plates” is displayed in a small adjoining room in the back where the Fitch is showing works from the permanent collection that relate to their main exhibitions. The work consists of six fancy-looking “commemorative plates” that Chantal Zakari and Mike Mandel created, much like those nice ceramics that are made to commemorate world fairs, national events, or public ceremonies. But these plates riff brilliantly on that hokey tradition to memorialize the mood of anxiety and fear and the “shelter in place” tactics used by police to lockdown Watertown during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber. 

Mandel, a photographer, documented the scene as the police moved through their neighborhood, and Zakari, a visual designer, turned the photos into at-first-glance "souvenirs." I've got pix of the wall text, so there's no need for me to babble on. Enjoy. Each plate is followed by a closeup showing the details. As always, click on the images for higher res (readable) versions.


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