THE 2018 PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART BIENNIAL
Opening January 26, the 2018 Portland Museum of Art Biennial features more than 60 works by 25 participating artists, highlighting the diverse perspectives and interests of artists connected to Maine and making a powerful statement about art's impact in this historical moment.
January 26 - June 3, 2018
In agreeing to curate the 2018 PMA Biennial, Nat May, the former executive director of Portland's groundbreaking alternative arts venue SPACE Gallery, wanted to ensure the exhibition raised awareness of the cultural moment in Maine and America, and focus on artists participating in those conversations. To that end, May reached out to several colleagues intricately involved in various circles of Maine's contemporary art scene. These included Theresa Secord, renowned artist, educator, and founder of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, Sarah Workneh, Co-Director of Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and Mark Bessire, the Judy and Leonard Lauder Director of the Portland Museum of Art.
Working as a team proved beneficial for the exhibition, as May and his colleagues made studio visits across the state and beyond, talking with artists who have meaningful relationships with Maine. “We’re taking the idea of connection seriously," adds May, "the definition of ‘meaningful’ should pass the straight-face test. But it’s also important to understand that this exhibition, though regional by nature, should not be defined by regionalism. Our border is permeable, and our world in Maine intricately connected to the world beyond our state lines.”
One focus for the group is artists who have never been represented at the PMA before, including past Biennials, exhibitions, or in the museum's collection. These may be artists who have shown extensively elsewhere or who are relatively unknown, but it is important to May to use the Biennial to bring artists and artworks to the PMA for the first time.
"The works are exceptional, thought-provoking, challenging, and inspiring," states May, "but I want to get away from the idea that the Biennial should be a 'best of Maine' show. The many excellent works that deserve to be seen exceed the exhibition's capacity, and our challenge was to select which works and artists will benefit from the attention, consideration, and thought from the PMA audience and the visitors to the exhibition."