ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Contemporary Art Center will present its new exhibition “Messages and Mediums” from October 1 through November 13.
RoCo Executive Director/Curator Bleu Cease and artist Shannon Taggart discussed what you’ll see and the inspiration behind it Wednesday.
“This exhibition brings together two artists who explore spiritualism and technology through their artworks,” explained Cease. “Modern spiritualism, as it’s often called, as a movement was started nearby, grew in Rochester, and is still alive and well in Lily Dale, New York. Shannon has been working with this community for a long time. She has produced a new series of photographs memorializing seances that were conducted over Zoom. In the other half of this exhibition, Matthew Ostrowski has combined new and old technology to reanimate the founding voices of both telegraphy and spiritualism. These are two movements that evolved together in Rochester, so we have a strong tie to two chapters of local history, and Matthew, in a sense, has created a sculptural seance between Kate Fox and Samuel Morse. So we’re really excited about this exhibition.”
Taggart found a way to continue to pursue her passion despite the limitations of the pandemic.
“I began photographing spiritualism in 2001 and I’ve continued that work with mediums to this day,” she said. “During the pandemic, I really wanted to continue photographing but the problem was I couldn’t travel and I couldn’t do any in-person interaction. So I took inspiration from the spiritualists who have a long history with experimenting with technology and I collaborated with several mediums – some in Lily Dale, some in England, some in other cities – and we did photography work through Zoom, through FaceTime, and through Skype.”
Taggart’s interest in spiritualism was born as a teenager.
“I grew up in Buffalo which is close to Lily Dale, New York. It’s about an hour away. My cousins used to go there for readings when I was a teenager and one of my cousins went there and got a message from my grandfather that told us this story about his death that proved to be true that none of us knew. I became very curious, how could a total stranger know such a thing? So I began exploring spiritualism and I thought I would spend one summer in Lily Dale but the history is so fascinating that here I am still learning and experimenting with spiritualism.”
Cease said there will be a conversation on Zoom with the artists on October 23.
To learn more about “Messages and Mediums” visit RochesterContemporary.org.