Published: February 27, 2018
MORRISTOWN, N.J. – As the permanent home to an array of automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata, the Morris Museum has begun a four-year series, “A Cache of Kinetic Art” featuring an annual exhibition of kinetic art, related to the collection. The creative energy and vitality of kineticism is highlighted while featuring interpretations by present-day artists who fuse innovative design with creative use of traditional and contemporary media.
Open to established and emerging artists, this juried exhibition series explores a range of artistic talent, inventiveness in design and a mastery of technique. By bridging the gap between vintage and contemporary kinetic art, visitors will experience the creativity and excitement of this unique art form.
Developed and curated by the staff of the Morris Museum’s Guinness Collection, the first juried kinetic art exhibition “Curious Characters” debuts on Friday, March 16; it will be on view through June 20.
Drawing parallels of innovative engineering, design and imagination, and bridging the gap between vintage and contemporary kinetic art, “Curious Characters” make connections between the technological ingenuity and talent of Nineteenth Century automata makers and artistic individuals of kinetic and interactive figures, inspiring a deeper understanding and appreciation of this unique art form.
“The goal of this exhibition is twofold,” Michele Marinelli, curator of the Guinness Collection, said, “First, to explore a range of artistic talent in kineticism, including providing an opportunity for emerging artists to showcase their talents, and second, we anticipate that by bridging the gap between vintage automata and contemporary kinetic art, visitors will come to understand and appreciate this unique art form.”
The team of jurists who brought their unique perspectives to judging the entries included Lizbeth Krupp, Boston, patron of the arts, collector and founder of Krupp Family Foundation; Richard Garriott, New York, video game developer, entrepreneur, collector and astronaut; and Dawn Delikat, New York, associate executive director at Pen and Brush.
Sixteen artists were chosen from submissions from the Mid-Atlantic states; from Bangor, Maine, to Santa Monica, Calif.; from Alabama to Minnesota, Arizona and New Mexico. International artists selected for “Curious Characters” come from Canada, Argentina, Greece and Australia.
Conservator Jere Ryder said, “The museum is very pleased with the community of international artists who responded with submissions of a wide array of works. A 20-foot sea container arrived last week carrying just one of those works, and we’re very excited to welcome the artist to Morristown and the region for the two- to three-day installation. It, as well as the other pieces in the exhibit, will surely amaze and stimulate everyone’s senses.”
“Within the ‘Curious Characters’ exhibition, there are four separate areas that explore different aspects of kineticism,” Marinelli explains. “‘Progressions’ examines the direct connection between Nineteenth Century automata and present-day kinetic art. ‘Automata’ tells stories; there are new tales to be told in ‘Storytellers.’ A sense or a feeling is experienced at ‘Musings,’ while the abstract nature of figural forms is integrated within ‘Essence’.”
As a perfect complement to “A Cache of Kinetic Art: Curious Characters,” the Morris Museum will host AutomataCon from Friday, May 18, to Sunday, May 20. This is the second international convention devoted to automata, drawing enthusiasts from around the world.
A People’s Choice Award will be announced at AutomataCon, Saturday, May 19, at 5 pm. Visitors may actively participate in choosing the final prize; voting opens March 16 and concludes on May 19.
“This groundbreaking exhibit will be one of the most intense, well-rounded gatherings of kinetic artworks under one roof that anyone has ever experienced. Something not to miss, if you appreciate art that moves,” Ryder concludes.
The Morris Museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. It is also open evenings from 5 to 8 pm on the second and third Thursday of the month. For more information, 973-971-3700 or www.morrismuseum.org.
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