Cedric Harper’s Art of Language
For all its simple forms and seemingly unrefined ornamentation, Cedric Harper’s art speaks volumes.
“Ancestral Language,” currently on view at the Higgins Art Gallery at Cape Cod Community College (2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable), features dozens of two- and three-dimensional painted objects by the Boston-based poet and artist. The exhibition, which was curated by artist Carol Moses, comes to the Cape after opening at the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts earlier this year.
Harper’s work is distinguished by an idiosyncratic and intensely personal visual vocabulary. “My creative work comes from manipulation of language, symbols, and dreams, whether that transforms itself into tables, sculpture, totems, or panels as its form,” says Harper in a statement accompanying the exhibition.
The installation features a veritable forest of vertical pieces that hang from the ceiling of the gallery and are covered with text fragments and symbolic marks derived from global language forms. The marks and gestures become Harper’s original language to communicate concepts of “love, loss, style, queerness, and perseverance.”
Other three-dimensional objects in the show critique materialist culture and underline the urgency of environmental issues beneath their vividly painted surfaces. “All pieces start from recycled materials,” says Harper. “Items that have been disregarded, rejected, or tossed out as trash. The subject is usually determined by the recycled materials as to what it will become … those materials are cleaned, repaired, re-imagined, and become what I see in them.”
Prior to his full-time art practice, Harper performed with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York City and worked in health care as an advocate for people with disabilities. The objects he creates are inseparable from these experiences. “When you observe life and live life,” he says, “the better your art becomes, one uplifting the other.”
Harper will conduct a webinar about his art and the exhibition on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m.
The exhibition is on view until Oct. 13. See capecod.edu/higgins for more information.
Hawk Henries Breathes Life Into His Flute
Craftsman, educator, interfaith leader, and musician Hawk Henries is a member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of the Nipmuck, a people indigenous to what is now southern New England. He will perform his original music on a wooden flute — one of the many he has made by hand over the past two decades — at the Wellfleet Public Library (55 West Main St.) on Friday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m.
Henries details the construction of his flutes on his website. He carves with careful attention to the natural characteristics and tendencies of each individual piece of wood: the knots and grain patterns, the shape and size. The instruments are seamless, each chiseled from a single solid piece. A round sound mechanism allows the player to breathe into the flute rather than blow. The result is a mellow tone, a maneuverable range, and an understated power. The flutes are alive, he says, with voices of their own. When Henries finishes making one, he gives thanks to it.
Henries says he thinks of music as a way to remember and recognize common humanity, despite differences in cultural and individual identity. “Common humanity doesn’t mean that we’re all the same,” he says. “Instead, it speaks to our origins, the source or place, before our manifestation in this bodily form.” The vibrations of the flute affect a player physically, inviting mindful reflection. The flute itself, speaking the common language of music, reminds listeners and players alike of their interdependence and mutual understanding.
The concert, which is presented at the library by the Wellfleet Historical Society and Museum, is free, with limited seating. See wellfleetlibrary.org for information. —Dorothea Samaha
A World of Film at Preservation Hall
Each year since 1998, the Manhattan Short Film Festival has presented 10 short films — selected from thousands of international submissions — over a week of concurrent screenings at more than 500 venues all over the world. Audience members are then given the opportunity to vote for their favorite films, which are awarded prizes in categories including Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Film. Outer Cape film fans will have the opportunity to participate in the festival this weekend in four screenings at Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main St.) from Thursday, Sept. 28 to Saturday, Sept. 30.
This year’s 10 finalists were made by filmmakers from eight countries (Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Finland, Iran, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and cover an eclectic range of themes and filmmaking styles. Finnish filmmaker Teemu Nikki’s Tuulikki is a taut psychological drama about a fraught mother-daughter relationship, while Jonathan Laskar’s The Record is an animated story about a musical-instrument dealer and a magical record album that seems to read his mind. Other films deal with family and intergenerational conflicts (The Family Circus, Snail), the frustrations and comedic potential of A.I. technology (Voice Activated), and space exploration (Soleil de Nuit).
In addition to the rest of the simultaneous worldwide screenings, the 10 films are also shown in a cinema in Los Angeles for a full week, which makes them eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award per Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules. According to the festival, several films that were screened over the years — including 2020’s The Present and White Eye — later went on to be nominated for Oscars. Each year’s films are collected on an annual DVD that is sold on the festival’s website.
There will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday screenings at Preservation Hall at 6 p.m. and an additional Saturday screening at 2 p.m. Tickets for each screening are $15. See wellfleetpreservationhall.org and manhattanshort.org for more information, including trailers for the nominated films.
American Roots at Vinegrass Music Festival
The Vinegrass Music Festival returns for its ninth season at Truro Vineyards (11 Shore Road, North Truro) on Sunday, Oct. 1, with a mix of returning artists and first-time performers.
Kicking off the American roots music-focused program is Vinegrass founder Monica Rizzio, who will be debuting her new band. Rizzio blends country and “seaside music” in a combination of her Texas roots and current location on the Cape. The lineup also includes the High Hawks, a “supergroup” of seven members of jam rock ensembles from around the country.
The energetic Twisted Pine ensemble, who have been noted as a “band to watch” by National Public Radio, returns to the festival for the first time since 2016. The Last Revel, a folk, string band, and indie rock group that has reunited after a five-year hiatus, will round out the festival program.
In addition to Sunday’s festival, Vinegrass also produces concerts at Truro Vineyards and other venues on the Cape throughout the year. As of this year, the nonprofit Vinegrass organization has raised more than $100,000 for scholarships, grants, and musical instruments for students.
Tickets for the family-friendly festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., are $59, with kids 14 and under free. Food and drink from the Crush Pad Food Truck, Truro Vineyards, and Lewis Bros. Ice Cream will be for sale. See vinegrass.org for more information.