West Stockbridge — Cynthia Atwood’s artistic presence in the Berkshires spans nearly 30 years. During that time, her association with some of the region’s most respected art galleries established her reputation as an artist of the first rank. Her new installation, “An Alphabet of Weapons,” opens with an artist’s reception 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe in West Stockbridge. The exhibit continues through June 18.
Seven years in the making, “An Alphabet of Weapons” reflects the sculptor’s essential affinity for a certain combination of tools and media: “I am motivated,” she says, “by attraction to materials and the pleasure I take in handling them.” Her new work also evinces Atwood’s longstanding interest in works that make exaggerated reference to the human body: “I make objects that confront my body and that of my viewer with sensuous humor and some provocation.” Indeed, all of Atwood’s work is manifestly sensuous, humorous, and provocative.
Of course, “An Alphabet of Weapons” stands, in thematic terms, distinctly apart from the artist’s previous works. Atwood explains, “The alphabet is a customary structure that most people can understand.” Its familiarity, she suggests, provides the viewer with a convenient framework for understanding and enjoying “An Alphabet of Weapons.”
“Working at random through the alphabet,” Atwood recounts, “I find that many of my choices are double-edged.” For example, “C” is for Charm. In this work, Atwood has rendered Charm as an oversized charm bracelet in its jewelry box. “Charm can be warm and real,” she says, “or it can be manipulative.”
“V” is for Venom, represented by a baroque growth that drips with . . . what? Bile? Honey? We can’t be certain. “Sometimes,” she observes, “we can’t resist a beautiful thing that draws us in and then poisons us.”
“A” is for Ask: Atwood says, “A question asked can be a weapon. It can be asked maliciously or lovingly.”
“F” is for Fear (see above): “Fear,” Atwood says, “can be a weapon that we use against ourselves or others.”
“Z” is for zealot: “Zealots adhere inflexibly to narrow and restrictive ideas. But their zeal creates a bright, energetic aura that can be both attractive and dangerous, almost like electricity.”
Cynthia Atwood’s work has been shown in dozens of galleries across the USA, including Carrie Haddad; Morgan Lehman; Landmark Gallery (Putney, Vermont); Foundation Gallery at Columbia-Greene Community College; and Trustman Gallery at Simmons College.
Atwood participated in “The Body Project,” which was sponsored by The Railroad St. Youth Project of Great Barrington and by IS183 School for the Arts in Interlaken (Massachusetts). She has also worked with Community Access to the Arts, an organization in Great Barrington that serves developmentally disabled adults through the arts.
Yankee Magazine named No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe the best coffee shop in New England. Since its 2013 opening in Berkshire County’s oldest train station, the cafe has hosted artistic and cultural events of every kind imaginable. The gallery showcases local and international artists and serves as an event space for live theater, music, dance, poetry, storytelling, lectures, film screenings, book launches, wine tastings, pop-up shops, dance parties, and more. Check out No. Six Depot’s event calendar here.