“Mary Mattingly’s Open Ocean” Debuts at Mystic Seaport Museum August 10

On August 10, Mystic Seaport Museum will celebrate the opening of its new exhibition, Mary Mattingly’s Open Ocean, with a day of art-related activities, music, a lecture, live music, and the opportunity to meet the artist. Mattingly is a leading contemporary artist from Brooklyn, New York, with an interest in the sea as a platform for making art.

Mattingly comes to the project with a background in photography and sculpture. Her work consists mainly of sculptures and installations made from mass-produced objects that seek to call attention to everything we as a society create and consume. A personal motif is her practice of “bundling,” where she gathers found objects into large clusters contained by netting. “I think of these bundles as collaborative sculptures,” says Mattingly, “Made from packaging, props, rope, tools, and fabrics, they could be seen as bundles of things that many people have contributed to: from the people who mined, manufactured, and packaged these things to the people who purchased, used, and displayed them.”

Given the theme “Oceans as Commons,” Mattingly immersed herself for several months in the Museum’s collections vault, poring over artworks, opening drawers of artifacts, in search of “evidence of how the sea has always challenged the rigidity of modern, terrestrial life; how its very nature permits a different tenor of creativity.”

From that, she has developed an exhibition that examines the oceans from three perspectives:

  • As a largely unknown space that is shared by everyone but governed by few

  • As a massive component of private enterprise

  • As the “heart” of the planet, covering 50 percent of the Earth

The stories the exhibition will tell are ones of time and space, invention and commerce, and climate change and depleted resources.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, the Museum will hold an “open house” August 10 with a variety of related activities and programming throughout the day:
  • Meet the artist with Mattingly in the gallery interacting with visitors
  • A participatory activity by Mare Liberum, a freeform publishing, boatbuilding and waterfront art collective based in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, New York. 
  • Live performances by the Museum’s sea chantey musicians
  • A talk by Matthew Friday of SPURSE,a  a creative design consultancy that focuses on social, ecological and ethical transformation. He will discuss their OCEA(n) project, a multi-year collaboration with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. This project, designed to transform the roles of fishermen into natural historians and consumers into citizens
  • Tours of the artifact storage vaults in the Museum’s Collections Research Center. 
  • Mattingly “bundling” outdoors next to the exhibition building. Visitors are welcome to collaborate with Mary on her bundle. She will accept non-perishable donations under 20 inches, and lighter than 50 pounds.

The exhibition and all related activities on August 10 are free with general admission.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support the curation and development of three new collections installations and related programming at Mystic Seaport Museum. These projects will provide new perspectives on the art and ensure the continued preservation and refinement of the collections while also promoting public access. This is the first of the three to open.

About Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum, founded in 1929, is the nation’s leading maritime museum. In addition to providing a multitude of immersive experiences, the Museum also houses a collection of more than two million artifacts that include more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography. The new Thompson Exhibition Building houses a state-of-the-art gallery that will feature J.M.W. Turner: Watercolors from Tate, the most comprehensive exhibition of Turner watercolors ever displayed in the U.S. opening October 5, 2019. Mystic Seaport Museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. For more information, please visit www.mysticseaport.org and follow Mystic Seaport Museum on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.