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Mary Mattingly working on the installation of “Mary Mattingly’s Open Ocean,” which opens this Saturday with a day full of related programming.

Credit: Joe Michael/Mystic Seaport 

MYSTIC — Mystic Seaport Museum will celebrate the opening of its new exhibition, Mary Mattingly’s "Open Ocean," on Aug. 10 with a day of art-related activities, music, a lecture, live music, and the opportunity to meet the artist.

Mattingly, a leading contemporary artist from Brooklyn with an interest in the sea as a platform for making art, 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,” said Mattingly in a statement. "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 and 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 and as the “heart” of the planet, covering 50 percent of the earth.

The stories told in the exhibition will be of time and space, invention and commerce, and climate change and depleted resources, she said.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, the museum will hold an “open house” with a variety of related activities and programming throughout the day, beginning with a "Meet the Artist" event with Mattingly in the gallery. Following will be a participatory activity by Mare Liberum, a freeform publishing, boatbuilding and waterfront art collective based in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn; live performances by the Museum’s sea chantey musicians and a talk by Matthew Friday of SPURSE. SPURSE is a creative design consultancy which focuses on social, ecological and ethical transformation. Friday will discuss SPURSE' "OCEA(n)" project, a multi-year collaboration with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance 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 will also be given'

Mattingly will also be "bundling" outside next to the exhibition building. Visitors are welcome to collaborate with with the artist who will  accept non-perishable donations under 20 inches, and lighter than 50 pounds.

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

— Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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