COLONIE — The Shaker Heritage Society will host a public exhibition and musical performance by visual artist Mara Baldwin and composer/percussionist Sarah Hennies on Sunday, Aug. 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the iconic Meeting House.
“As I Progress” is a collaboration between the two artists that combines drawings, sculptures, and sound inspired by the traces left behind of the once thriving Shaker society. Shaker objects, architecture, and music are the source material for a new kind of interdisciplinary work that evokes a feeling of ghosts and loneliness in the 1848 Shaker Meeting House.
This event features an exhibition of Baldwin’s visual art in combination with a one-hour piece of music by Hennies and performed by Hennies, guitarist Matt Sargent, and Australian cellist Judith Hamann.
This is Baldwin and Hennies’ second collaboration of Shaker-themed work following the 2020 performance of “Come ‘Round Right” at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, a 45-minute piece for four fiddle players accompanied by four Shaker chair sculptures and slowly shifting light.
The installation, composition, and a forthcoming filmed work are funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Support for Artists Program.
Since 1977, the Shaker Heritage Society has stewarded the site of America’s first Shaker settlement. The Shakers’ Utopian, communal society was built on a framework of equality of men and women and all races, and valued innovation and the pursuit of perfection through everyday work. Established in 1776, the historic site is a small oasis of Shaker buildings in a tranquil, natural landscape. The site is located within walking distance of both Albany Airport (built on former Shaker land) and the Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve. The 1848 Meeting House and 1915 Barn are venues for both community programs and private events.
Baldwin’s work focuses on the impossible dream of utopia and asks if a perfect life can include the feelings of failure, loneliness, and dissatisfaction. Her multi-disciplinary and research-based studio practice uses works on paper and textiles in creating serial and narrative forms. She received her master’s in fine arts from the California College of the Arts and her bachelor’s in fine arts from Wesleyan University.
Sarah Hennies is a composer whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer and trans identity, psychoacoustics, and the social and neurological conditions underlying creative thought. She is primarily a composer of acoustic ensemble music, but is also active in improvisation, film, and performance art. She presents her work internationally as both a composer and percussionist with notable performances at Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, Le Guess Who in Utrecht, O’ Art Space in Milan, Cafe Oto in London, and ALICE in Copenhagen).
She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, a 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received additional support from New Music USA, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Bard College.