An afternoon at the deCordava

By Katie Peters – Co-Editor-in-Chief

As a part of the deCordova’s “Visionary New England” exhibit, Candice Lin’s “La Charada China” tells visitors a story of Chinese immigrants in New England during the Opium Wars. The altar, made of organic materials, is accompanied by a voiceover from Lin’s studies.
Photo by Katie Peters

Nestled among the curved back roads of Lincoln, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum’s expansive outdoor trails featuring nearly 60 modern or contemporary sculptures and a museum, currently with two exhibitions, is open.

Admission for students to gain access to both the sculpture park and museum is $10, while admission for just the sculpture park is $14. As COVID-19 precautions, each ticket holder is assigned a one-hour time slot to explore the museum, masks must be worn, and tickets must be bought online.

The two current exhibitions will be on view until March 14. One of the two, Visionary New England, features works from twelve contemporary artists including Caleb Charland, Paul Laffoley, and Candice Lin. These artists, from the mid 19th century to today, explore the themes of spiritualism, experimental psychology, utopias, and alternative communities from their experiences all over New England.

Two rooms hold eight pieces in this exhibit by Paul Laffoley. With his unique poster-like style, Laffoley conveys complex ideas and concepts through symbols and words. One notable work on display, “Utopia: Time Cast as a Voyage,” depicts how the idea of a utopia is a direct result of Western concepts of time and death. He defines a utopia as “the belief system that the individual and the collective aspects of consciousness can be resolved.” The piece resembles a Bhavacakra, or a visual representation of samsara.

Paul Laffoley’s “The Thanaton III” sits on the third floor of the deCordova as a part of the museum’s “Visionary New England” exhibit, on display until March 14. Laffoley’s poster-like style gives a unique touch to the exhibit.
Photo by Katie Peters

“The Thanaton III” is another interesting work from Laffoley. This painting features information Laffoley learned, he says, the third time he was visited by the alien Quazgaa Klaatu. To communicate some of the new information he learned to whoever it was meant for, he made this painting to act as a “psychotronic” device. If one were to approach the painting with their arms in the air and touch the hands on the painting while looking into the eye, “new information will come to you through the active use of divine proportion, which is the proportion of life connecting to death,” says Laffoley.

One of the themes of Visionary New England these two paintings both bring up is the concept of eidos, something Aristotle describes as an object or species’s physical form in metaphysics. Laffoley calls for viewers to break from their eidos and accept that the universe is bigger than the whole of one’s understanding.

Paintings by Esther Geller, Irene Valincius, Polly Thayer, Karl Zerbe, and more on display as a part of the deCordova’s “Transcendental Modernism” exhibit. This exhibit will be on display until March 14.
Photo by Katie Peters

Transcendental Modernism is the second exhibit currently on display at the museum. With works mostly from the museum’s permanent collection, this exhibit takes themes from Visionary New England while also specifically “focusing on artistic developments in Massachusetts from the 1940s through the 1990s,” according to deCordova’s website. This exhibition includes art from Harold Tovish, Hyman Bloom, Napoleon Jones-Handerson, and more.

The main space of the third floor is dedicated to this exhibition. The center of this space features a huge wooden wall titled “Build therefore your own world” by an artist familiar with the deCordova, Sam Durant. The wood that was used to create this piece was originally used in Durant’s “The Meeting House,” an outdoor piece displayed at the deCordova in 2016 created to connect America’s tumultuous past of slavery with modern revolution. This wall on display is one of four walls created by Durant.

Much of Durant’s work on display focuses on racial justice and other social issues. Each of these four walls had poems printed on them by Kevin Young, Dainelle Legros Georges, and Robin Coste Lewis. In Young’s “A Frieze for Trayvon Martin,” printed on the wall at the deCordova, he writes “you are no gun nor holster, no finger aimed, thumb a hammer cocked back, all the way – I refuse.”

Howard Tovish’s “Downfall” on display as a part of the museum’s Transcendental Modernism exhibit, one of many of Tovish’s sculptures on view.
Photo by Katie Peters

Harold Tovish’s “Downfall” is another work in this exhibition, among many of Tovish’s works on display currently. The artist uses epoxy spheres with carved cracks and faces atop a circular two-way mirror along with fluorescent lights to create the illusion of a never-ending chamber. When looked at from above, the epoxy spheres seem to be layered beneath each other in a bottomless pit. Some suggest this piece is a symbol of an almost fantasy-like world that could be created with new technologies while also displaying the sense of anxiety that comes with it.

If the beauty of art is not enough attraction, balconies overlooking Flint Pond offer stunning views and sculpture trails provide unique views for a short hike. On weekends, guests can preorder items for a picnic that they can enjoy anywhere on the museum’s 30-acre property. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on weekends to 5 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: