New Exhibit – Park Bench Stories

New Exhibit – Park Bench Stories

This exhibit will be here from September 11th - December 8th, 2020

The Park Bench Series is a brand new exhibit here at the museum! Artist Leni Levenson Wiener, creator of the exhibit, talks all about the exhibit in her statement below. She also highlights how one can have the best experience when seeing this beautiful exhibit. 

Artist Statement: I have always been an observer of people, and I am especially drawn to quick glimpses into the lives of strangers, little snippets that tell their own stories. My camera is always with me, and I save all of my photos in computer files for later use. At some point I came to realize that I had collected dozens of photos of people sitting on benches- people all over the world. These people would become the basis for this exhibition. The photos themselves span several years and several continents.

Every one of these pieces, whether a single person, a couple or more people occupying the same space– tell a story. The people have been removed from their environment, even the bench itself is left to the imagination of the viewer. You need to tell your own story about each figure. Who are they? Where are they? What are they doing? The answer may not be the same for everyone who sees the exhibition. I like it that way, because every person who views the works brings a little bit of their own life experience to the stories these artworks tell. 

Park Bench Stories consists of 39 pieces that represent people who have come to sit on a park bench at some point during a day, a week, or longer. The bench is implied until the very last piece in the exhibition, which shows the empty bench. Until that point, viewers are invited to imagine for themselves the bench and its location. The interactive connection makes this a good exhibition for school groups, writers’ groups as it inspires viewers to create their own stories based on the pieces. Those interested in fiber art, art quilts or the psychology of body language also find this an intriguing exhibition. 

The Woman in the Shawl

How to view this exhibition:

The photos used as the inspiration for these pieces were taken over a period of several years, in a variety of locations around the world. Photos originated in: 

  • New York: Bronx, Brooklyn, NYC, Larchmont 
  • Massachusetts: Williamstown 
  • Colorado: Denver 
  • New Mexico: Santa Fe 
  • Italy: Florence, Rome, Venice 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Austria: Vienna 
  • Hungary: Budapest 

The pieces for this exhibition were also completed over the course of about a year with interruptions for commission work and other deadlines. There are three ways you can view this exhibition: 

  1. The Stories: Each piece in the exhibition tells a story, it is up to you as the viewer to decide what that story is—who is (or are) these people, what are they doing? How are they feeling? 
  2. The Places: As I was working on these pieces, I noticed that the people from different places often had a different “look” to them—those in European cities looked different from those in US cities, and even people from different places in the US had a different kind of look. Americans seem to always be on the phone; Europeans seem to smoke a lot. Where were each of these original photos taken—can you tell which ones came from the same places? 
  3. The Technical: Because these pieces were completed at different times, it was apparent to me that they changed slightly in execution—with those being done around the same time having technical aspects in common that may have changed from one “grouping” to another. Can you tell from looking at these pieces which were done at the same time? Also, can you find the same fabrics used in different ways in a variety of the pieces? 

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