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The artists in this exhibition – many of whom work collaboratively – articulate various aspects of Folklife as a cultural precedent. Folklife encompasses all facets of self-organized creativity, including boatbuilding, collective mending, parading, storytelling, foodways and interactions with the built and natural environment. The millenium-old rituals of street spectacle are re-imagined, an abandoned library-turned-art incubator fosters a multi-part installation, historic watercraft built from salvaged materials are rendered seaworthy, and folks who fix things do just that in About, With & For. Exceeding the specific concepts of the art world discourse, this exhibition revels in the expanded possibilities of cultural influence in contemporary life.

About, With & For features works by artists from New York and New England including Matt Bua, Dirt Palace, Clare Dolan/Museum of Everyday Life, Fixers Collective, HONK! The Festival of Activist Street Bands, Mare Liberum, National Bitter Melon Council and Jeff Stark.

See the installation photos


Opening Reception
Friday, October 4 | 7pm
Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts
Free and Open to the Public.

Featuring a live musical performance by Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society.

Fixing Sessions with the Fixers Collective
Saturdays October 5 and November 2 | 3-6pm
Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts
Free and Open to the Public

Be a part of a social experiment in improvisational fixing and mending. Dedicated to working together to fight the planned obsolescence of the objects in our lives, Fixers Collective encourages material literacy through informal, hands-on fixing sessions. Bring that broken lamp, torn pair of pants, or busted toaster to a fixing session and interact with a fixer who can help you get it back into use. Note: repairs are not guaranteed and drop off items are not accepted. Come early!

Singing Pictures with Clare Dolan/Museum of Everyday Life
Saturday, October 26 | 7pm
Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts
Free and Open to the Public

Clare Dolan, Chief Operating Philosopher of the Museum of Everyday Life, presents Singing Pictures.  Dolan animates the Mills Gallery with a live version of cantastoria, the millennium-old performance form in which painted narrative images are brought to life by a singing narrator. Dive deeper into the commonplace mystery of the banal with stories ranging from the modern day quest for achieving balance between happiness and making a living, to allegorical tales. The evening includes an entertaining historical overview of the performance form, cantastoria and a Q&A session.

The National Bitter Melon Council and our (Inter)national Bitternesses
Thursday, November 7 | 7pm
Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Art
Free and Open the Public

In 2004, the NBMC was founded in the South End neighborhood of Boston, beginning right here at the BCA. Since that time the council has grown, producing projects and reflecting on bitterness in its literal and symbolic form internationally. Gather with NBMC founding members Andi Sutton (joining from Boston, MA) and Hiroko Kikuchi (joining from Tokyo, Japan) to discuss bitterness and how you can use it as a rallying tool (or culinary contribution) in your community.  Find out where the NBMC has come from and where it is going. Bring your bitterness and they'll bring their Bitter Melon.

1860's Paper Canoe Building with Mare Liberum
Saturday, November 16 | 10am-1pm
Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts
Free and Open to the Public

New York-based artist-boatbuilders Mare Liberum revive the 19th century practice of creating full-scale paper racing shells, skiffs and canoes.  Popular with American boaters in the mid-to-late 1800s these low cost, lightweight and repairable watercraft were used by racing teams, explorers, sportsmen and novice urbanites attempting to escape the trappings of modern life, as part of a popular "back to nature" trend that foreshadowed an early environmentalism.  Learn about the process of full-size paper boatmaking with common items from the hardware store and work along side the artists to finish their in-progress paper canoe.

BRIGHT NIGHTS: Book signing and presentation with author and photographer Tod Seelie
Friday, November 22 | 7 pm
Mills Gallery

Tod Seelie loves New York, but not the version depicted on postcards. This startlingly beautiful collection of images captures a gritty culture that belies the city's glamorous persona. Interspersed throughout the book are texts from fellow artists, including an introduction by Jeff Stark, artist in the current Mills Gallery exhibition, "About, With & For."
Tod Seelie has taken pictures in more than 25 countries on five continents. His photographs have been exhibited in galleries around the world and appeared in publications including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, TIME, Spin, Thrasher, Vice, Der Spiegel and Juxtapoz.

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We are grateful to the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the NLT Foundation for their support.



National Endowment for the Arts

Institutional supporters

Massachusetts Cultural Council


Liberty Mutual Foundation

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