Farm Year will be on exhibition April 15 through May 21, 2017 at the Poultry House Gallery in the historic village. All pieces are for sale. The artist is generously donating a portion of each sale to support the Village and it’s mission. For pricing information and to purchase a piece, contact Lesley Herzberg at email@example.com or at 413.443.0188 x232.
The year is like a necklace, with a big bead for each of the four seasons. People like to complicate it up with smaller beads – holidays, birthdays, anniversaries – but farm animals like to keep it simple. All year, the temperature changes from warmer to cooler. Leaves pop out and later shrivel. The light changes, too. Daylight lengthens and shrinks, and, as that happens, its colors change. To me, winter light is white. As spring approaches, it is yellow. In the summer, the light often seems green, and in the fall, it becomes more orange. In the paintings, I hope you will be able to see how different each season looks, and how important each one is to the animals on the farm.
As the light changes, so does the rhythm of the lives of the farm animals. In the spring, all the babies are born. By the time it is warm enough to go outside, the babies have grown enough to dance and
play and to learn to eat grass or catch bugs. In the fall, the animals who live in the Round Stone Barn at Hancock Shaker Village are often still out in the fields, but they also welcome the warmth of the barn, where they will be living cozily all winter. In the spring they will have their own babies and the cycle will begin once again.
About the Artist
Susan Merrill is a Stockbridge artist who grew up on a farm in rural Maryland. She has a deep and abiding respect for all animals, but particularly farm animals, as they become scarcer on Berkshire farms. Over the years, many children have been introduced to Hancock Shaker Village when they visit the newborn inhabitants of the Round Stone Barn during the Baby Animals event. Activities that were part of everyday childhood life for the artist – cuddling chicks, feeding lambs, milking goats – are available to very few children today.
For the past ten years, Susan Merrill has sought out these animals on farms to emphasize some unique aspect of their lives through her painting. She has painted the babies; the ones with amazing patterns on their backs; the configurations formed by groups of various species; the ones which seem black-and-white but which change color depending on atmospheric conditions and other variables; portraits; and farm animals eating – grazing, gobbling, pecking. Of course, there are always pictures of babies!
Susan Merrill earned a B.A. at Bennington College and an M.A. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For many years she was the Lower School Art Teacher at Berkshire Country Day School, and has shown her work in many venues, primarily in Berkshire County. In addition, she illustrated I Live In Stockbridge, a child’s history of the town written by Susan Geller; written and illustrated a children’s book, Washday, published by Clarion Books of Seabury Press, New York; and written two novels, Warm Morning, based on her childhood house on the Maryland farm, and Cool Evening, based on her Stockbridge house.
Days of Youth: The Lives of Shaker Children
April 15 – November 12, 2017
This new exhibition is a lively look at children who grew up with the Shakers, and explores what it was like to live in a closed celibate community dedicated to principled living. Themes cover play, school, clothing, and work among others. The exhibition includes period photographs, furniture, textiles, toys and many artifacts never before exhibited. Detailed biographies of eight children from different villages add to the first-hand accounts of Shaker childhood. Also included is an interactive Shaker portrait, where visitors can learn about a child’s daily schedule, innovations, and United States geography as it relates to the Shaker communities.
GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY: an Anonymous donor, The Dobbins Foundation, and Richard and Carol Seltzer
Built in 1878, the Shakers’ Poultry House is currently a gallery space with rotating exhibitions.