Gayleen Aiken and Duane Michals
Magic and Mystery

Magic and Mystery: Works by Gayleen Aiken and Duane Michals

Opening February 1

This installation, featuring recent additions to the Museum’s collection (2015 and 2016 respectively), pairs drawings by Gayleen Aiken, the consummate Vermont outsider, with photos by Duane Michals, one of the most celebrated photographers of the last 50 years. The pairing seeks to draw out parallels and resonances between the works of these two very different artists who both forged their distinctive artistic voices during the second half of the twentieth century, Aiken largely behind closed doors and Michals in the limelight of the international art world.

An obvious parallel is that both artists use handwritten texts, functioning less as captions and more as extensions of the artist’s thoughts and imaginings, as an integral aspect of the works. On a deeper level both artists explore the magic and mystery of everyday life through fictional vignettes peopled by invented characters. Fireworks, fireflies, electric sunsets, and music help to create magical atmospheres in which the artists’ invented characters revel or reminisce. Similarly, nighttime, or the transition from day to night, deep woods, and old buildings, ranging from Victorian houses, to granite factories and barns, create an overriding aura of mystery. Despite their disparate backgrounds, Aikens and Michals both create works that invite viewers to engage in our shared humanity.