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Clark Art Institute opens 'Anne Thompson: Trail Signs'
Anne Thompson: Trail Signs, Image: Clark Art Institute\Anne Thompson.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.- The Clark Art Institute opens a new exhibition on its campus trails today. Anne Thompson: Trail Signs, offers visitors to the Clark’s campus an unexpected viewing experience that can be encountered along the walking paths that traverse the Clark’s 140-acre site. On view through December 31, 2021, the exhibition features a rotating installation of unique prints displayed on seven kiosks across the Clark’s trail system.

Anne Thompson has long explored the shifting meaning of signs and symbols in relation to their social setting, whether making paintings, prints, or outdoor projections. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began designing posters featuring bold, black-and-white symbols and installed them on trail kiosks throughout Berkshire County. Thompson’s unsanctioned project sought to engage and complicate public messaging at a time when people increasingly ventured into, and sought meaning in, the outdoors. As striking as they are mysterious, her abstract forms suggest public wayfinding, but also digital iconography, modernist logotypes, or even ancient languages. In Trail Signs, Thompson continues this series at the Clark and on the adjacent town trails maintained by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation.

“Anne’s posters for the Clark combine graphic punch with strangeness and humor—you can almost place them, but they’re also clearly out of place,” said Robert Wiesenberger, associate curator of contemporary projects at the Clark. “We hope anyone who uses our trails to break the monotony of another long winter will encounter this brief but regularly changing project early and often.”

Thompson uses the existing infrastructure of the Clark’s trail kiosks for the installation, which will change every two weeks. The artist will affix new sets of posters onto the surfaces of the freestanding wood structures, creating a total of forty-eight unique prints over the course of the two-month project. Thompson uses wheat paste, a delicate, impermanent technique, to evoke the layered, worn, and torn textures of urban streetscapes in the Clark’s natural setting. By mixing metaphors—organic and artificial, public and private, old and new, evocative and opaque—Thompson invites open-ended and ephemeral encounters on the trails. She will document each of the prints on-site and produce an artist’s book at the conclusion of the project, presenting it at the Clark during a talk in the spring.

The Clark’s trails are continuously open and accessible to all visitors, with no admission. Trail guides are available at the outdoor kiosk sites.

Williamstown resident Anne Thompson (b. 1963 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina) is a visual arts faculty member at Bennington College, where she is director and curator of the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery. During 2014–2017, she founded and curated the I-70 Sign Show, a nationally acclaimed public-art billboard and event project that positioned the midwestern interstate as a corridor for cultural and political commentary. Information on exhibitions she has produced for Usdan Gallery can be found at

Thompson has been awarded fellowships at Epicenter; the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute; the Women’s Studio Workshop; the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service); and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Before receiving her MFA from Yale in 2002, she was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press. She joined the Bennington College faculty in 2017

Anne Thompson: Trail Signs is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Robert Wiesenberger, associate curator of contemporary projects.

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