TRURO — A new virtual exhibition opening Friday, July 17, at the Highland House Museum celebrates Truro’s history through paintings on a surprising kind of canvas: ceramic plates.
“Looking Back, Looking Forward, Truro 2020 Plate Project,” includes 50 plates, created by 50 people, including artists and amateurs, year-rounders and summer residents.
It is an extraordinary collection of “plate art” –– not all of it traditional, says Susan Kurtzman, who owns Jobi Pottery and also serves on the board of the Truro Historical Society. Pieces arrived glazed, painted with acrylic, decoupaged, sculpted, and even sewn, she says.
The coronavirus crisis just may have made this collection more interesting than it would have been otherwise. Had things gone according to plan, Kurtzman would have offered a one-day plate-painting event open to artists and other community members inside her gallery at Jobi. The virus crushed that plan.
But community interest in the project remained strong, says Kurtzman. Artists and novices alike rallied to participate from afar. She began to hear from “people who had never painted a painting, people who had never worked on ceramics, people who were stuck at home, or isolated, or out of work.”
Making a meaningful contribution to the exhibition and the museum became only part of the story. Then there was the fact that “people wanted to focus on something positive, to have a worthwhile project,” she says.
Participants who did not have their own supplies were able to collect a “kit” (composed of a plate and underglaze) on the curb outside of Jobi. Kurtzman then put together Zoom classes and videos to coach people along.
Despite the distance in geography and in time, the result was a wholly communal experience of resilience and creativity. And then plates began to appear.
10 plates in two zig-zag rows] Top row plates, left to right, by June Hopf, Diane Messinger, Roberta Lema, Robert Henry, and Carol Warshawsky. Bottom row, left to right, Rochelle Borg, Stephanie Packard, Cammie Watson, Joan Rogers, and Elizabeth Lazeren. (photos Nancy Bloom)
Hanging the show at the Highland House, Susan Kurtzman (left) and Susan Howe, president of the board of the historical society.
Dan Haslam’s plate commemorates that great moment in Truro history — July 26, 1928 — when the world’s longest glider flight record was set at Highland Links.
Former Muppeteer and textile artist Ed Christie designed both plate and placemat.
Valerie Falk’s “Let Sleeping Dragons Lie,” next to Kyle Ringquist’s “Underwater Series.”
Bidding on the plates will be online, with the funds going to benefit the programs and exhibits at the Truro Highland House Museum.