The Hippo


Apr 19, 2019








The Canterbury Shaker Village is unique in that it has never been closed down or renovated and contains all of the original structures from its days as an operational Shaker community. Courtesy photo.

Village Rising

When: Saturday, Aug. 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Canterbury Shaker Village, 288 Shaker Road, Canterbury
Cost: Included with the cost of admission ($17 for adults, $8 for kids ages 6 to 17, free for kids ages 5 and under)

Connecting with history
Shaker Village unveils new contemporary exhibit

By Matt Ingersoll

 The Shakers’ beliefs in sustainable living and working smart rather than hard will be honored during Village Rising at Canterbury Shaker Village on Saturday, Aug. 6. 

The day-long event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature the unveiling of several new exhibits, in addition to guided tours and walks and other special events throughout the day.
Most of the active Shaker communities in the Granite State and beyond have long since closed or turned into museums, but the Shakers’ ideas, values and lifestyles continue to live on and have a strong impression in our daily lives, according to Funi Burdick, Canterbury Shaker Village’s executive director.
“What I really love that makes us stand out is that we have never altered the buildings or the landscape,” Burdick said. “One of the interesting things about our Shaker Village that’s different from others is that this site never closed. It was envisioned as a museum by the last remaining Shakers.”
Burdick said doing just that involves observing the most basic ideas of what the Shakers believed in.
“[The Shakers] really believed in community and connecting, and they invited people to understand how they were receiving the word of God through art forms like dancing and spirit drawings and paintings,” she said. “They created an interesting environment that was sympathetic to both worship and to human interaction.”
It was through these ideas that Burdick created Shaker Traditions: Contemporary Translations, an exhibit that will be unveiled at the start of Saturday’s event and will be open to the public at the Village through Dec. 10.
“The idea behind [the exhibit] was to sort of make a call out to people who have visited the Village and ask them if it’s inspired them to create something on your own, whether it’s a piece of artwork or a piece of music or a poem,” she said. “And we asked people that if they would like to submit them to us, then we would try to showcase that along with Shakers’ works to show that pieces the Shakers created connect with your own contemporary creation … so it’s kind of cool in that it showcases our commonality with the Shakers and how their values have manifested themselves in our lives.”
Burdick said the most interesting thing about each exhibit submission was the wide variety of media from both professional and amateur artists, artisans and writers.
“What often happened when people submitted pieces was that the themes became intertwined and had almost a sort of holistic inspiration,” she said. “So I asked people to not only submit a piece but write something about it to give more insight into what they are representing.”
One of the items they received was a tilted top table built by Greg Brown of Bedford called “Devil’s Embrace.”
“He took a walnut slab and sculpted it into a beautiful functioning table,” she said. “He wrote that the Shakers believed that it was important that something built be both necessary and useful, and at the same time to not hesitate to make it beautiful. So that was what he was reacting to.”
A “knitted beehive” spun out of yarn by Sharon Cheeseman will also be on display. Burdick said it showcases how important cultivating bees was and pays homage to the way the Shakers fed their animals.
Photographer Paul Cary Goldberg submitted a photo of cupped hands holding a handful of seeds to express the beauty of hands at work. And architect Brian Healy submitted two paintings he felt embrace the quality of light that plays off the landscape and buildings of the Shaker Village.
“There’s always this practical and beautiful quality to what people are interpreting,” Burdick said. “It’s such a fun way also to get to know our members and visitors better, and to get to see what resonates with them.”
Burdick said visitors will get a chance to respond to and participate in the exhibit’s opening. She will be giving a gallery talk, followed by an open meet-and-greet reception with the artists at 3 p.m.
Other highlights of the day will include a guided tour of special places that the Shakers loved to photograph, a poetry workshop led by poet Kelley Jean White, wagon rides, and art activities for kids and families.
A special new feature to this year’s Village Rising is a commemoration of Hiroshima Day called “1,000 Paper Cranes for Peace.” The day falls on the 71st anniversary of when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during the final stages of World War II, killing more than 90,000 people. An additional 39,000 at least were killed just three days later in a second bombing on the city of Nagasaki.
“I didn’t exactly pick the date for Village Rising for that reason, but we do like to try to participate in national ideas,” Burdick said. “The Shakers were pacifists, and I thought that it would be a beautiful expression to do at the village, which is such a peaceful site.”
The night before Village Rising opens, on Aug. 5, the Shaker Village will host a large dance performance called “Released” featuring dancer Lorraine Chapman. Burdick said Chapman has assembled an extensive roster of choreographers performing work inspired by original Shaker dances. Tickets to this event are $45 general admission and $15 for students and children, and include admission to Village Rising the following day. A similar series of dance performances called “Rising and Rotating” by emerging choreographers and student groups will also be featured throughout the day.
“There’s certainly a lot of different things going on, but the idea is that people will expand their thinking and make a connection,” Burdick said. “I think that history museums have a challenge to try to engage with the public and not stay isolated. But I’m so lucky because I believe that these ideas that the Shakers promoted really do have resonance with the general public today.”

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