A gallery at Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury is full of ghosts of literary icons both real and fictional: Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Colonial-era preacher Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his most famous creation, Hester Prynne.
Lesley Dill’s tall, elongated sculptural figures, which hang from the ceiling, are artistic representations of those legendary writers. On their clothes, Dill stencils segments from some of their most famous works.
Dill, 68, began her artistic exploration of Dickinson and company about 28 years ago, when her mother gave her book of Dickinson’s poetry.
“I thought oh no, I don’t really like poetry. Then I opened the book and started to read it and something in me woke up. The meaning was in me already,” Dill says. “It had such an impact on my unconscious mind that images for art making started to happen. It was a feeling of electrical alertness.”
Since then, Dill has embraced poetry and prose that speaks to her, and historical and literary figures whose life stories she finds inspiring.
Anne Hutchinson, the 17th-century religious dissenter who was banished, is represented in Dill’s “Mystic Participant,” which uses the words of a Christian leader who called her an “American jezebel.”
Mary Rowlandson, a 17th-century housewife who was kidnapped by Indians and held for 11 weeks, speaks through her own writings, as do Dickinson and Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and John Brown, and other writers and thinkers from the 17th to 19th century.
Though Dickinson is the heart, and the inspiration, for the exhibit, Dill has a special fondness for the Colonial-era voices.
“They were really starting the American voice, not the British voice, but the American voice. … That was the crossover from being Britain to being America.”
LESLEY DILL: WILDERNESS is at Mattatuck Museum, 144 West Main St. in Waterbury, until Sept. 2. mattmuseum.org.
On Other Walls
The Washington Art Association’s 2018 Sculpture Walk will be up until Nov. 1 in areas all around Washington Depot. Details and a map: waasculpturewalk.com. At the same time, “Maquette: The Art of the Model,” an exhibit of maquettes of the sculpture-walk works, is at the gallery until Sept. 15.
Photography by Margaret Del Vecchio is at West Hartford Art League, 37 Buena Vista Road, until Aug. 24. whal.org.
Sunil Howlader will have a solo show titled “Mystical Interactions” at Mystic Museum of Art, 9 Water St., until Sept. 22. At the same time, a group show of regional artists will be held. sunilhowlader.com.
“Sergei Fedorjaczenko: Diamonds and Rust” is at David M. Hunt Library, 63 Main St. in the Falls Village section of Canaan, starting Aug. 18, opening with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. huntlibrary.org.