Art Talk & Reception: Silent Middens, with Allyson Montana
Please join 2023 Myers awardee Allyson Montana for a discussion of Silent Middens, an exhibition of abstract artwork that explores the human need to construct stories, interpret ideas, and connect with others. Inspired by Catal Huyuk, a complex Neolithic archaeological site from Anatolia (known today as Asia Minor and constituting the Asian Portion of Turkey), Allyson created a series of paintings in which she explores symbols and material from several archaeological sites, including Teachers College as an archaeological settlement.
As an unwritten story and with so much room for interpretation, archaeology can mislead, misinform, and misrepresent. Because the archaeological record is ahistorical, it becomes a mirror into our own culture, bias, and folly. When we remove the human voice and the written word, what stories do symbols tell?
In archaeology, middens are a valuable archive of human activity. Trash middens typically provide a glimpse of domestic life, daily habits, environment or trends, but they cannot give us a full picture of a civilization The latter reminds us that constructing a story based on a midden is an imprecise science.
At times, Allyson incorporates materials she collected for the TC Middens into paint and media and layers them onto canvas and board. The embedded layers from the TC Midden are distributed throughout many of her paintings as stratigraphic records of her interviews and discoveries over the collection period, August – December 2023. The interactive portion of the TC Midden Project invites community members to leave an object behind as a record of our story and presence in the gallery.
Allyson Montana is a painter and doctoral student in the Art & Art Education Program at Teachers College. Allyson’s work, informed by her background in ancient history and East Asian Languages, explores unwritten stories from the archaeological past. She is an educator and has participated in Fulbright Fellowships to study art history in Japan, India, and Sri Lanka, as well as fellowships in Korea, Taiwan, and China. Allyson has exhibited her large scale, mixed media acrylic paintings in various settings throughout the Northeast. She is also a current doctoral Fellow in the Art and Art Education program at TC where she enjoys working with students teaching workshops and summer courses.
Members and affiliates of Teachers College, Columbia University may use the register button on this page.
Non members may rsvp via online support. Use the drop down menu to select RSVP and enter your details, so an e-mail confirmation may be sent.
Where: 305 Russell / Offit Gallery
SIlent Middens is on exhibit from December 6th, 2023 – Februrary 2nd, 2024. Allyson Montana will also lead an abstract painting workshop in Macy Art Studio on Friday, January 26th, from 2-4pm (details forthcoming).