From 22 May 2021 to 13 February 2022, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times. The exhibition, originating from Maine’s Portland Museum of Art, marks the first major museum survey of painter Carrie Moyer and sculptor Sheila Pepe, whose abstract works, rich with colour and materiality, explore themes of craft, feminism, and queer activism.
Highlighting the artists’ individual styles and techniques, collaborative works, and new directions through more than 25 works on view, the exhibition presents their most ambitious collaboration to date. The impressively scaled Parlor for the People is a site-specific installation that reimagines the religious tradition of the tabernacle as a communal space open to all for the discussion of justice, equality, knowledge, and these ‘trying times.’
‘The opportunity to bring this exhibition, the first major collaboration by these Brooklyn-based, visionary life partners, to the people of New York City at this moment couldn’t be more important. It is critical that museums take a leading role in the healing of our communities and at the same time do all we can to support our local artists. We invite everyone to be a part of this exhibition experience and to find inspiration within our galleries.’Terry Skoda, Interim Director at MAD
Partners in life and art
For Moyer and Pepe, the evolution of their artistic practices is inextricably linked to their 25 year love story. A couple since 1998, they married in 2015. Over the decades, they have broken through homophobic and sexist barriers to earn international acclaim.
As a painter, Moyer developed a visual language that weaves together abstraction, bodily forms, and logo-like imagery. Pepe is best known for her use of industrial materials, which she knots, knits, and crochets into monumental structures. In the exhibition, individual works from over the last two decades demonstrate how Moyer and Pepe have informed each other’s development while maintaining distinct identities as artists, scholars, women, and activists.
Expanding definitions of craft and abstract painting
The couple’s most recent collaborations represent an exciting new advancement for these two radical artists’ trajectories, as together they challenge the viewer’s understanding of craft while expanding definitions of abstract painting.
‘We are thrilled to bring Tabernacles for Trying Times to our hometown of New York City. For the 25 years that Sheila and I have been a couple, we have been deeply engaged in each other’s evolution as artists. One of the pieces Sheila created specifically for MAD is a new kneeler, part of her American Bardo series. Audiences will have the chance to see this important floor sculpture in the context of the table-top Votive Moderns – both rarely seen objects from her wide-ranging sculpture practice – alongside Sheila’s well-known, large-scale fibre works.’Carrie Moyer
‘Carrie and I are in each other’s studios all the time – her nickname for me is the ‘Painting Doctor!’ The new version of Tabernacles for Trying Times opening at MAD will gather a selection of her works from the last 25 years along with a 10-foot canvas created especially for the New York venue,’ says Pepe. ‘Our collaborations seen alongside the individual pieces will give viewers a taste of the eclectic range of our shared interests – from formalism, abstraction, and New York modernism to queer politics, spirituality, and our own cultural backgrounds.’
Find out more about Tabernacles for Trying Times here.