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Waterbury's Mattatuck Museum explores many kinds of labor through the eyes of women artists

Alison Saar (American, b. 1956) Rise, 2020. 2-pass linoleum print on letterpress.
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Mattatuck Museum
Alison Saar (American, b. 1956) Rise, 2020. 2-pass linoleum print on letterpress.

A new exhibit at Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum explores the ways women manage different forms of labor in their lives. Whether it’s the experience of labor during childbirth, or the labor of raising children and running a household, or labor in the workforce, (Re)Work It! is an exhibit by 30 female-identifying artists that explore those topics.

Chicago artist Simone Leigh’s untitled ceramic water vessel is a perfect example, according to Keffie Feldman, chief curator for the Mattatuck Museum.

“This is an early vessel of hers, and it's a container, but the outside has breasts all over it,” said Feldman. “In many traditions, particularly non-Western traditions, or non-industrial traditions, women are closely associated with water, and care. And so by essentially aligning the vessel form and the female body, she's making a comment on the way in which women use their bodies to care for their families, their communities. I think that it’s a really, really strong piece, both visually and conceptually.”

The exhibit builds on a similar show from 2022, to include more artwork and points of view, Feldman said.

“We had such a great time, putting the first show together, engaging with the artists, engaging with the artwork, and we felt like the topic deserved a lot more time and attention,” Feldman said. “And it deserved to be commented on by a wider range of voices. Because there are so many stories of what women's labor looks like in 21st century America, we wanted to do a better job of capturing the diversity of those experiences.”

(Re)Work It! runs through May 19 at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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