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Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times

On February 7, 2020, the PMA is honored to host the first major museum exhibition centered exclusively on these two renowned contemporary artists, commissioning them to collaborate on a site-specific work that will fill the museum’s Albert Brenner Glickman Galleries. Both artists incorporate diverse themes of craft, feminism, and activism in their art.

Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times reimagines a familiar form of religious furniture—the tabernacle—as a symbolic location for cultural values such as justice, equality, and knowledge. Moyer and Pepe embrace and expand these values, using abstract art and representations of the tabernacle to create spaces for community and dialogue, while exploring each artists individual yet intertwined abstract languages.

The exhibition also promises deep Maine ties. Moyer and Pepe met at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and both have returned to teach and serve on the boards of both Skowhegan and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. The site-specific work at the center of the exhibition will be produced by Moyer and Pepe with support provided by M.F.A. students from the Maine College of Art, who will employ a range of skillsets from woodworking to welding to fiber art. With vibrant colors and exuberant abstract forms, it will serve as a site for interactive programming with community partners, including artists, scholars, high schools, and social organizations.

Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times reverberates throughout the contemporary art landscape—marrying the local and the global in a profound and immersive exhibition.

This exhibition will travel to the Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY in 2021.

About the artists

Carrie Moyer’s sumptuous paintings on canvas explore and extend the legacy of American abstraction while paying homage to artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Elizabeth Murray, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Rife with visual precedents, Moyer’s compositions reference Color Field, Pop Art, and 1970s Feminist art while proposing a new approach to fusing history and experimentation in painting. Moyer co-founded one of the first lesbian public art cooperatives, Dyke Action Machine! (DAM!). DAM! blitzed the streets of New York City with posters to dissect mainstream media by inserting lesbian images into recognizably commercial contexts, revealing how lesbians are depicted in American popular culture.

Shelia Pepe is best known for her fiber-based, site- specific installations that challenge notions of domestic crafts and “women’s work.” These web-like structures intervene in architectural spaces and galleries, creating volumes, lines, and shadows that are subject to the changing conditions of the environments they occupy. Part of Pepe’s commitment to feminist politics is her long-standing engagement with collective making. In 2007 she undertook several ambitious collaborative projects, including Liquid Sky at MoMA PS1. Some of Pepe’s other collaborations have reversed the terms of making and invited collective unmaking. In her Common Sense series, spectators were invited to unravel her textile installations in order to use the materials for their own purposes.

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