Let’s Dance! 50 Years of The Yard
The Waggaman Community Gallery
July 30 – October 21
In 1973, choreographer Patricia N. Nanon had an idea: a colony for performing artists, nestled in the hills of Chilmark, devoted to providing the time, space, and resources for choreographers to create new works. That first summer dancers and audience members shared space with the hay in David Flanders’s barn, but only a decade later, with a growing reputation in the dance community and on the Island, The Yard settled into its permanent home just outside of Chilmark’s town center. As The Yard celebrates its 50th season this summer, this exhibit explores its past through photographs, film, and archival materials.
The Art of William Blakesley
August 22 – November 3
For more than 50 years, William Blakesly documented the everyday lives of Vineyarders and summer tourists through his sketches, drawings, and paintings. In conjunction with a retrospective exhibition at Featherstone Center for the Arts (September 11 – October 2), come see selected works by Blakesley that capture the artist’s tireless and timeless spirit.
The Bureau: Grow, As We Are
The Hollinshead, Cox, and Fleischner Galleries
September 3 – January 8
Curated by Bobby Rogers and his team, the Bureau, this photographic portrait exhibition is the result of a three-year residency with the Inkwell Haven Foundation. Launched in 2019 on the porch of one of Oak Bluffs’ oldest continuously operated inns, the Narragansett House, this multidisciplinary artist residency program fosters collaboration and supports projects that are rooted in the Island’s Black experience, past and present. The inaugural residency brought together five artists and centered around a series of late 19th-century photographs depicting Black residents and visitors to the Island.
Black Americans have been a part of Martha’s Vineyard’s historical legacy long before the Island was made a stop on the Underground Railroad; and even before Shearer and Dunmere Cottages, two Black-owned inns in Oak Bluffs, were designated as safe spaces in The Green Book. For centuries, Black families have used Oak Bluffs as a haven, safe from the rampant and violent racism of the rest of the country and to find, what Maya Angelou described as “a safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” This exhibition serves not only as an enrichment of the Black body that is deeply woven throughout the history of the Island, but also as a beaming lighthouse for our future to connect and live out, even if briefly, the freedom dreams of our ancestors.
Grain Family Gallery
September 30 – February 12
None of us is wholly free. Our actions are limited by law, custom, and what Gandhi called “the small, still voice within.” The freedom of some individuals, however, is far more limited than that of the average citizen. This “unfreedom” exists in many forms and many degrees, but its burdens fall primarily on those already disadvantaged by their race, sex, age, social standing, or economic condition, and its benefits flow overwhelmingly to those already advantaged. So it has been in every society in recorded history. So it has been, for 400 years, on Martha’s Vineyard.
This exhibit is an exploration of three kinds of unfreedom in the history of the Island: enslavement, indentured servitude, and incarceration. It examines the interwoven stories of those who suffered unfreedom and those who benefitted from it, as well as its lasting impact on families and communities. Though centered on the Island’s past, it invites visitors to consider the ways in which — even today — some Islanders are still caught in a state of unfreedom.