Through the generosity of Beth Rudin DeWoody, the Museum recently acquired a multiple component installation piece made by the artist Vadis Turner, which will be included as part of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The installation titled Reception addresses women’s worth as represented in dowries provided at the time of marriage. The sculpture consists of a twin bed piled high with objects in this woman’s dowry, including dishes, candelabra, jewelry, textiles, and stacks of bibles. All of this is surrounded by fabric wedding cakes, chocolate coins, ribbons, fabric flowers, garter belts, paper rose petals made from tampon boxes and plastic brides and grooms mounted on top of fabric cupcakes.
Due to the numerous components—61 fabric flowers alone—and complexity of how the components interrelate, the artist came in to assist with the initial installation of this object. The object is on view in a specially selected room within 21: Selections of Contemporary Art from the Brooklyn Museum on the 4th floor.
The install took a day and a half, but the cataloging and accession numbering of all the components took several weeks. When objects are acquired by the Museum for the permanent collection, a baseline condition report and cataloging of the parts are made. This follows the current standard of best practices, establishing a record which will aid the museum in preservation and proper interpretation of the art work in years to come. Besides the bed, the viewer will note two other major elements in the room; a sex swing and a working chandelier made from tampons. The effect is one of a riotous explosion which seems a little off kilter. In speaking with the artist as she set up the installation, she wants the whole feeling of the piece to be decadent but a little tired; kind of like a melting wedding cake.
Lisa Bruno is the head conservator of objects at the Brooklyn Museum, where she has been working since 1993. She has previously worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, and has had internships at The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and in private practice. She has a Masters Degree in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Department. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.