May 29, 2024

Artist Challenging Gender Roles In New Exhibit

Samantha Fields' exhibit in Barrington. Photo by Nate McReynolds.

By Erin Hylen ’19
Arts & Life Editor

On Saturday, October 28, the Gallery at Barrington Center for the Arts held a reception for the exhibition “Mistress, Miss, Mrs or Ms, Madam?” by artist Samantha Fields, featuring pieces with contrasting textiles, crocheting, embroidery, knitting, and sewing.

“Weaving, beading, embroidery, crochet, and sewing are used as both an aesthetic and conceptual strategy. Through these modes of making, I am exploring different social constructs associated with the decorative: gender, class, professional/hobbyist, and the hierarchical categories of taste and morality,” Fields said in her artist’s statement.

Fields’ exhibit also comments on production and consumerism in today’s society.

“Connected to this is a returning to the work of the hand, or labor. We have become more definitively disconnected from the products of our own making. We no longer make; we buy. We do not know what it is to handle materials through the process of long creation,” she said.

“Crocheting, embroidery, and weaving have the trace of the hand and the understanding of labor and time, and are imbued with our everyday experience. Craft holds within it the art/life dichotomy, embodying both,” she added.

Fields, who previously taught the Arts in the City course as a part of the Gordon-IN-Boston program, currently teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design within the Fiber Department, in addition to lecturing on sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Art Professor James Zingarelli said of Fields and her exhibit, “she comes out of a particular, not just creative spirit, but a feminist spirit, and so a lot of the work is generated out of that particular area.”

Part of Field’s exhibit also includes collaboration with students, Zingarelli said. “She is having every Wednesday a performance that only women can participate in. You get to add to one of the pieces in the show… and you have all kinds of options,” he shared.

This collaboration, entitled Underprimping, began on November 1 and is scheduled to continue until December 6. Students can sign up to participate at the Barrington Gallery.

Peter Morse, the Gallery Manager for the Barrington Center for the Arts, said in an announcement about the collaboration, “Underprimping is a large petticoat form… in the center of the large gallery, surrounded by stools and sewing and knitting supplies… While adding to the petticoat form, Sam and her assistants will take turns reading to each other from a bookshelf that contains women-authored texts about art, crafting, feminism, theology, and more.”

Eliza Dupee ’18, the first student to collaborate with Fields, said, “I really like the amount of thought and care that [she] puts into her work… there’s a lot of depth and meaning. Everyone could pull something different away, and there’s something for everyone to see. You could spend hours in here and still not discover everything because there’s just so much.”
Mistress, Miss, Mrs or Ms, Madam?” is scheduled to be on display until December 12, 2017.

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