MUSEUM LOBBY (a.k.a. Mass MOCA – Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art)
conduits of yesterday-metal
vie with writhings pf formidable tubes
against the striated ceiling
columns unretouched in this century
allow the past to bleed through
–here, the hue of Mohawks in rain
–there, the tone of too many tears
beams scoured by time
I resist descending
this fierce metal stairway
leading to that basement
where factory workers headed
to restrooms lacking all rest
where harshness and high walls
surround sinks that still insult
this lobby, capacious and echoing
streams with guests
–eager and savvy
–even the children
skipping toward grim gate and guard
pillars / ceilings / room dividers
flaunt splotches and scars
vivid as palettes of the brilliant
whose lifework adorns
relentlessly eloquent walls
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Mother’s Day, 2017
I actually thanked the Mass MOCA guards for the policy of not retouching the industrial past of this glorious museum, –full-to-the-brim with the most challenging art installations. They were gratified, especially when I added, “This reality honors all who worked within these walls. And underscores the powerful meaning of each artist’s work.”
As a creative person, I viscerally feel how stifled those factory workers must have been, laboring deep within these endless, now empty, but then emptying, spaces.
On this week’s Berkshire Journey, I realized that the transformation of Mass MOCA echoes that of the miraculous Michener Museum in Doylestown, –once a prison where my friends (mothers, nursing mothers, grandmothers) were impounded over an entire weekend for daring to lie down in front of bulldozers who would destroy the banks of the Delaware, so that the dread PUMP could be built to deplete our sacred river.
James and Mari Michener’s vision has been realized, that art triumph over incarceration.
I salute all the visionaries who knew that thought-provoking installations could surpass industrial dehumanization. Being at Mass MOCA is like standing under a shower of fresh mountain waters, mixed with electrifying ions, generous helpings of stardust, and more than a dash of cayenne.