Behind the Scenes

Art and love make for busy month at Brockton’s Fuller museum

Rosanne Somerson will speak at the Fuller Craft Museum. 
Rosanne Somerson will speak at the Fuller Craft Museum. Fuller Craft Museum

The Fuller Craft Museum will be offering a month-long valentine to visitors next month.

On Feb. 9, the Brockton museum will wrap up its exhibition “Made in Massachusetts: Studio Furniture of the Bay State” with two events featuring important figures in furniture design.

“It’s just a great way to get people to come before it closes,” Titi Ngwenya, the museum’s communications director, said of scheduling the programs on the show’s final day.

Furniture maker Rosanne Somerson of Providence, the Rhode Island School of Design’s interim president, will speak on “Designing the Future.” Somerson, whose imaginative “The Accordion Table” appears in the show and reflects its spirit, said by e-mail last week that her talk will focus on “what lies ahead in studio-based furniture design” in view of the opportunities offered by new technologies and the challenges posed by changing marketing and distribution trends.


“Using examples of new design work by a new generation,” Somerson said, “I will show work that derives from new ways of thinking about designing and making.”

She will also discuss themes from a newly released book, “The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice,” produced by the school’s faculty and staff.

Also that afternoon, the museum hosts a book-signing for “Speaking of Furniture,” featuring interviews with 14 American master furniture makers.

“The book arrived. It was beautiful,” Ngwenya said. “We decided we’ve got to do something big.”

Bebe Pritam Johnson, who coauthored the book with her husband, Warren Eames Johnson, will discuss their work and sign copies.

Ngwenya said the events are an opportunity to get more exposure for the 39 artists in the Massachusetts furniture show, which can still be seen every day except Mondays at Fuller Craft through Feb. 9. The 39 pieces in “Made in Massachusetts” feature a diversity of media, methodology, and historical influences, she said.


“The Accordion Table,” for example, plays off an inspiration drawn from the museum building’s architecture and its atmosphere of contained internal light. “The hand-carved texture that delineates the base referenced objects such as masks and icons that are used as ceremonial prompts,” Somerson said.

The Fuller’s director, Jonathan Fairbanks, said the history of furniture making in Massachusetts contains a lesson. While the state’s furniture legacy dates to 1620 and its furniture factories still led the nation in production 300 years later, the local industry declined when “everything became about profit.”

“The success of studio furniture depends upon the amount of love invested,” Fairbanks said. Evoking the words of an English Arts and Crafts movement designer, he said, “As William Morris predicted, when you stop caring about workers, they stop caring about their work. . . . What you see in this exhibition is beautiful material, elegantly crafted, and made with love.”

Also on Feb. 9, the museum will host a reception for a show that opens next Sunday titled “Machines and Mechanizations: Explorations in Contemporary Kinetic Sculpture.”

Kinetic sculpture, the museum said, can be defined as a three-dimensional object that incorporates movement or implied motion. The effect can be achieved in various ways such as electricity, wind, light, motors, human energy, and other manipulation of materials.

The artists include Mark Davis, who is showing “A Garden Here on Earth,” a wall-mounted mobile in brass and aluminum with steel wires and acrylic and oil colors; and David Lang, whose mixed-media creation of tiny pig figures mounted on huge, old-fashioned bicycle wheels is called “The Swine Flew.” Some of the show’s artists will attend the reception.


February also debuts a new approach to the museum’s “artkitchen Café Performance Series.” Held the first Thursday of each month, each evening will have its own theme. The theme for next Thursday is “Art in Motion, Heart in Motion,” a celebration of art, music, poetry, and food.

The combination of art and hearts continues on Feb. 14, when the museum presents a Valentine’s Day event called “loveCRAFT” that invites visitors to “feed your senses with an evening of Valentine’s fun.”

Activities include an offer to try your hand at the potter’s wheel and express yourself in clay. Also featured are live music, a DJ, gallery games, cash bar, light supper, an open dessert bar, and love poetry. Tickets are $30, or two for $50.

There will be a lot of love at the Fuller next month.

Behind the Scenes

Fuller Craft Museum

455 Oak St., Brockton

508-588-6000 www.fullercraft.org

“Designing the Future,” with furniture maker Rosanne Somerson

Feb. 9, 2 p.m.

members $7; nonmembers $15

“Speaking of Furniture”


Feb. 9, 12:30 p.m

“Machines and Mechanizations” reception

Feb. 9, 1 to 4 p.m.

artKitchen Café

Performance Series

Feb. 6, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

$8 members $12 nonmembers, $10 students

loveCRAFT Valentine’s Day Event

Feb. 14, 5 to 9 p.m.

tickets $30, 2 for $50

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.