Maura Sheehan: Hurricane

September 15–October 6, 1989
Beaver College Art Gallery

Exhibition Postcard

The immediate inspiration for this work came from the site itself. Formerly housing the generating plant for the entire campus, it is now reincarnated in a second life as an art gallery. The building is almost churchlike in feeling, with high, pitched roof and tall, arched windows. Sheehan has emphasized the devotional nature of the space, while suggesting interconnections between a faith in religion and a faith in economics...

–Eleanor Heartney

An environmental installation created especially for Beaver College's Art Gallery by New York artist Maura Sheehan will be exhibited September 15–October 6, 1989 at Beaver College Art Gallery, located in the Spruance Art Center on campus, Church and Easton Roads.

The exhibition, entitled "Hurricane", will officially open Tuesday, September 19, 1989 with a public reception from 7:00–9:00 PM in honor of the artist. At 6:00 PM, immediately preceeding the opening, the artist will lecture on her work in the College's Little Theatre. Both events are free and open to the public.

Installation view

Sheehan's installations, both outdoor and indoors, are generally site-specific — directly responsive to and inspired by the physical and historical dimensions of a given location. Critic Nancy Princenthal has noted that ". . .Sheehan's fundamental subject is the continuing presence of myth." Her early works — often guerilla-like interventions in the urban landscape — questioned not only art's structures but its purposes, past and present. Her more recent work, which layers many references through the use of seemingly simple materials, embraces the larger issues of what contstitutes modern American cultural legacy.

"Hurricane" will be a visual and acoustic environment whose planned materials include silver emergency blankets used as flags powered by small fans whose rustle will be augmented by contact microphones, a painted "trompe-l'oeil" beam of moonlight across the gallery walls and ceiling, and flags of third world countries installed around the campus. The installation is meant to recall Beaver College's origins as a private estate whose owner made his fortune in the sugar trade as well as respond directly to the gallery spaces's original purpose as the power plant for the estate. As it forms a link between the College's history and its present, "Hurricane" will generate an interior "thunderstorm" of sound, suggesting itself as a meditation on the symbolic nature of energy — both natural and artificial or man-made — as well as a kind of metaphor for the "power" of creativity.

Sheehan is represented in New York City by Bruno Facchetti Gallery and Barbara Flynn Fine Arts. She has created installations in several cities both in the U.S. and abroad, including Chicago, Houston, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Derry and Dublin, Ireland, among others.

The exhibition initiates "Transformations" a series of installations created especially for Beaver College's Art Gallery and has been funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C., the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Friends of Beaver College Art Gallery, and the Department of Fine Arts. An exhibition catalogue / brochure with essay by noted New York critic Eleanor Heartney on Sheehan's work is forthcoming.