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The original item was published from 9/14/2021 4:19:00 PM to 9/19/2021 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: August 23, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Benjamin Cowdan’s Interstitial Zigzags opens at the new Portal Gallery on Boltwood Plaza

Portal Gallery Diorama from Cowdan's Interstitial Zigzag Exhibit

The Amherst Public Art Commission is pleased to announce the opening of Interstitial Zigzags by Amherst artist Benjamin Cowdan. It is the Commission’s inaugural exhibition at the new Portal Gallery on Boltwood Plaza, located in the headhouse (the small building) above the town parking garage.


Friday, September 10th, 6-7 pm at the Boltwood Plaza on Boltwood Walk

Cowden’s exhibition transforms five small windows into moving, miniature worlds. Viewed from outside, each window features a brightly colored, interactive diorama. Abstract representations of a spinning cave, blooming flowers, and dancing tentacles respond to environmental cues. In one diorama a small figure clings to a wire above a bed of colorful, rumbling rocks. In another, a toy ship is tossed on stormy seas.

The artworks are kinetic and interactive. “People will be able to play with my sculptures through the glass,” Cowdan says. Viewers can make noise or shine light from their cell phones to activate the sculptures, some of which are also affected by other factors including the weather. Cowden began his career as a student in Cameroon where he learned from the Baka community how to transform worn machetes into utility knives. He is a voracious student of craft technique and enjoys working with almost any material or in any method, whether it is sewing clothes, building furniture, or constructing computer-driven artworks like the ones at Portal Gallery.

The opening will feature a live performance by the Roving Corsairs, a local band of “musical pirates” who perform traditional sea shanties, Celtic folk music and original tunes while dressed in pirate garb.

Interstitial Zigzags is supported by the Amherst Center Cultural District with funds from a recovery and rebuilding grant, allocated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It is slated to run through November 2021.

For more information contact  William Kaizen, Chair of the Amherst Public Art Commission:

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