Katherine Porter is known primarily as an abstract painter; writing in Art in America in 1994, art critic Ken Johnson praised her big, bold canvases of that era, saying that they “come on strong” and are “steeped in modernism, replete with echoes of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Delaunay, Hartley, Dove, Pollock, Guston, and others.” But Porter has always made her work distinctly her own, imbuing it with symbolism and a visionary consciousness. Since the 1970s, she has also been using needle and thread to explore the rich vocabulary of abstract modernist imagery, from circle motifs to jazzy diagonals. A selection of her colorful works on cotton and linen will be on view in “Katherine Porter: Embroideries,” which opens at the Danforth Museum of Art on April 5.
The Danforth’s press release reveals that Porter sees her needle works as “small histories.” With titles like In Nova Scotia and In Scottsville , they convey abstract, personal expressions of landscape in one of the least fluid, most domestic of media. Also at the Danforth, opening April 12, “Neeta Madahar: Nature Studies" features large photos of birds and bird feeders shot from the balcony of the London-based artist’s Framingham apartment while she was an art student in Boston, and her new video Falling , in which sycamore seeds descend from the sky.
Cinematic portraits of America are the subject of two films being shown at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center in conjunction with “America Starts Here: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler” (up through April 9). 66 Scenes from America , made in 1981 by Danish director Jørgen Leth and famously featuring Andy Warhol eating a hamburger, and New Scenes from America , the 2002 follow-up inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings and Robert Frank’s photographs (and featuring Dennis Hopper and John Ashbery), both remind us of the eccentricity and individuality (and roadside diners) that have distinguished this country. They’ll screen, free, on March 30 in MIT’s Bartos Theatre.
In the great spirit of land reclamation, or perhaps of “any port in a storm,” ignored walls are being transformed into New Media Walls around town — I think MIT’s Media Test Wall was first, but an excellent recent sighting is the New Media Wall at the Tufts University’s Art Gallery, which offers continuous screenings of short films and video works next to the Tisch Gallery entrance during gallery hours. Beginning April 7, the wall will feature “Artur Zmijewski: 80064,” which shows the Polish video artist and filmmaker, who’s known for setting up difficult situations involving vulnerable folks, trying to persuade a 92-year old Polish survivor of Auschwitz to “restore” his prisoner-number tattoo.
“Katherine Porter: Embroidery” and “Neeta Madahar: Sustenance and Falling” | April 5-June 4 [Porter]; April 12-June 4 [Madahar] | Danforth Museum of Art, 123 Union Ave, Framingham | 508.620.0050 | “66 Scenes from America” and “New Scenes from America” | March 30, 7 pm | MIT’s List Visual Arts Center, Bartos Theatre, 20 Ames St, Cambridge | 617.253.4680 | “Artur Zmijewski: 80064” | April 7-May 21 | Tufts University Art Gallery, 40R Talbot Ave, Medford | 617.627.3518
On the web
Danforth Museum: www.danforthmuseum.org
MIT's List Visual Arts Center: http://web.mit.edu/lvac/www/programs/
Tufts University Art Gallery: www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery