New York Arts in the Berkshires

Word, Image, and Deed A review of Michael Phillips’s presentations on William Blake. June 28-29, 2013, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester MA

William Blake, Cancelled plate from "America, a prophecy." Unique plate with pencil corrections by Blake, bound in with six other plates from America, a prophecy. Lessing Rosenwald Collection. Library of Congress.

How do we access the past? The viewer of contemporary art is invariably ensconced in, if not assaulted by, the strategies of artist, gallerist, and critic setting a work in terms of the present. The viewer, even the neophyte, invariably is attuned to the content of the discourse—racial memories of South Africa, female experience in the United States, sexual identity, response to AIDs, poverty, or age, in term that resonate with lived, personal experience. How does an exhibitor or critic bridge the cultural gap that so actively stands between our present and our past, especially with artists outside of the mainstream?