BURLINGTON, VT.- The Robert Hull Fleming Museum
announced the opening of two new special exhibitions for the Summer 2009 season. Joining the current large-scale Lake Champlain Quadricentennial exhibition,A Beckoning Country: Art and Objects from the Lake Champlain Valley, are the contemporary art exhibition Elizabeth Billings: The Ties that Bind and the historical exhibition, Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont.
Elizabeth Billings: The Ties that Bind
In her Handprint Series, Vermont artist Elizabeth Billings combines the traditional method of ikat weaving with embroidered text drawn from the diary of a 19th-century Vermonter, Harriet Warren Vail, a distant relative of the artist, who wrote one line each day from 1850-1865 noting her observations on nature and work. Ikat is a style of weaving that uses a resist-dyeing process to create a pattern or design. In the Malay language, the word ikat suggests "to tie" or "to bind"; thus, Billings' ikat weavings suggests the threads that connect or bind generations together.
Also included in the exhibition is a large weaving of twigs from local apple and sumac trees, which Billings views as the very essence of ikat. In this piece, the threads, or twigs, speak individually, and connect us to the earth and to a particular place, whereas in her ikat weavings, they speak as a whole, binding us to traditions of diverse cultures and peoples, to the past and to the present.
Elizabeth Billings was trained in Vermont by master weaver Norman Kennedy and subsequently apprenticed to ikat weaver Keiko Shindo in Morioka, Japan. She received an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 2002, Billings was selected by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington DC, to represent Vermont in their From the States exhibition program.
Elizabeth Billings: The Ties that Bind is on display now through October 4, 2009.
Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont
In July of 1909, seven-hundred and fifty soldiers from the 10th Cavalry Unit of Buffalo Soldiers marched into Vermont for their assignment at Fort Ethan Allen, Colchester, Vermont. This year marks the centennial celebration of this march, and the Fleming Museum is honored to celebrate this historic event.
African-Americans have fought in every conflict in U.S. history; however, it was not until 1866 that Congress authorized the formation of six black regiments in the U.S. Army. These soldiers served at remote outposts, in extremely harsh conditions, and were a low priority in receiving supplies. These regiments earned the name Buffalo Soldiers from Native Americans who held their fighting spirit and intense courage in high regard. Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Indian and Spanish-American Wars and in the Philippines, Cuba, and Mexico. When not in battle, they built forts and roads, installed telegraph lines, escorted wagon trains, surveyed roads, and protected settlers.
This exhibition contains rare historic photographs depicting the Buffalo Soldiers in combat, on patrol, in the barracks, at work, and at rest. Also on view is a collection of artifacts including everyday items used by the Buffalo Soldiers.
In commemoration of the reunion of the Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont, admission to the Museum will be free for all members of the military community from July 28 - August 2, 2009. Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont is on display now through September 13, 2009.