WATERVILLE, ME.- The Colby College Museum of Art
presents a special installation of the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break that includes a group of works by other artists and artisans displayed in conjunction with works from Lockharts Lunch Break project. The opening of the exhibition coincides with the release of the Lunch Break Times, a special-edition newspaper conceived of by Lockhart for the Maine communities involved in the making of Lunch Break.
Los Angeles-based artist Sharon Lockhart creates films and photographs that are at once rigorously formal and deeply humanistic, meticulously observing the details of everyday life while also exploring the limits and intersections between the two mediums. In 2008, Lockhart spent the year in Maine, a state she associates with her childhood and where much of her family lives. During this year, she visited factories, farms, and industrial sites. One of these sites was the Bath Iron Works, where for a period of several months she observed and engaged with workers, forging collaborative relationships throughout the shipyard. The films and photographs that Lockhart produced from this experience focus on these workers during their midday break.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the film Lunch Break, which consists of a single, slow-moving tracking shot down a long and seemingly endless interior corridor. To create the film, Lockhart recorded a ten-minute walk-throughher first use of a mobile camerathen employed digital technology to stretch the films length to eighty minutes. The result is a meditative reflection, devoid of sentiment, on life in the factory during a midday break. By contrast, the second film, Exit, utilizes a static shot divided into five sectionsone for each day of the workweekand depicts workers as they depart the shipyard at the end of their shifts.
The first of the three series of photographs centers on workers lunch boxes, emphasizing the ways in which stickers, labels, contents, and minute details of wear and tear suggest the personalities of their owners. A second series consists of carefully composed images of workers lingering around lunch tables, at once recalling and revising historical traditions of group portraiture. The third series is devoted to the independent businesses that exist within the factorymakeshift booths where workers sell hot dogs, coffee, and other items to their colleagues. These photographs express the humor and camaraderie of the workplace, as well as the values of trust, self-sufficiency, and independence, so central to the working life of the shipyard.
For the presentation of the exhibition at the Colby Museum, Lockhart, in collaboration with the architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, has selected works by other artists and artisans that will be displayed in conjunction with works from the Lunch Break project. Additions to the exhibition are drawn from the Colby Museums collection, other Maine museums, and private lenders. Works from the Colby Museums collection include paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and folk art depicting the Maine landscape, the factory town, maritime themes, and people at work and at leisure. The historical and contemporary objects by Maine artisans consist of tools, containers, such as spruce gum boxes and earthenware, signs, and decorative objects. The dialogues that emerge from this evocative constellation of works offer viewers the opportunity to question conventional conceptions of art, craft, and work and their relationships to each other and to everyday life.