Sheldon Museum hosts talk on spirits and the arts
MIDDLEBURY — On Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m., Associate Champlain College Professor Stephen Wehmeyer will present “By Seen and Unseen Hands: Spirit Artists and their Art in the 21st Century,” a talk to be held at the Sheldon Museum in Middlebury.
Since the earliest days of its history, the American Spiritualist movement has been closely tied to the visual arts. Renowned mediums like the Bangs Sisters and the Campbell Brothers trafficked in “precipitated” paintings — artwork purportedly produced by spirit hands — while the emergent technology of photography offered believers (and the occasional charlatan) a new tool for capturing visible records of an invisible world.
Spiritualism thrives in the present day, and the visual arts remain a vital part of the expressive culture of modern Spiritualists. Since the mid-1990s, Wehmeyer has been exploring the artistic work of Mediums and Spirit Artists from Spiritualist communities in Western New York, Southern California and New Orleans. This presentation explores the role and function of visual arts in the lives and work of these latter-day Spiritualists, whose vernacular visions of unseen worlds continue to intrigue, delight and inspire.
The talk is part of the programming offered by the Sheldon Museum in conjunction with the Museum’s fall exhibit “Conjuring the Dead: Spirit Art in the Age of Radical Reform,” on view through December. Free with Museum admission. Space is limited, advance reservations are recommended by calling (802) 388-2117. For more information about the exhibit and accompanying programs, call the Sheldon or visit henrysheldonmuseum.org.