The Harpoon Project – Site Specific for New Bedford

The Harpoon Project, 2013
Site-specific installation, dimensions variable, 1100 ceramic harpoons

“Németh envisioned a multiple element installation for the large wooden floor of the UMass main gallery space. As a consequence, Levitt and nearly 50 university and related community volunteers, over several months, created 1,000 handmade ceramic harpoons for the artist, each about 12 inches in length, and these became the materials for the installation. The dark harpoons are arranged on the golden oak floor, dispersed yet all pointing toward the entrance door, like arrows or missiles or a school of crazed fish, yielding “the feeling of threat and admiration” intended by the artist. One can walk among the curved harpoons, and visitors are encouraged to do so to gain different perspectives. However the overall perceptual effect from the gallery door is of an amazingly robust, activated, convex form made up of the multitude of ceramic harpoons, an unstoppable motion. A beautiful installation emerges from the sheer dramatic flow of the handmade objects.”

Judith Tolnick Champa,

“After I was invited by Viera Levitt to exhibit at University Art Gallery, I started to study New Bedford and its history, since as a site specific art artist my work derives from a site’s historical and cultural historical context, I found the moment when Lewis Temple invented the ‘toggle harpoon’ to be symbolically a crucial moment for the city, one that influenced its success and economic growth through the rise of the whaling industry. I was also impressed by the shape and handmade feel of this object in the collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Since CVPA has a Ceramics Department, I was excited about the idea of involving its students and faculty in this project. I am very thankful to the gallery, the ceramics department, and all the volunteers who helped with the installation.”

Ilona Németh

In cooperation with: University Art Gallery, UMass Dartmouth, New Bedford, USA

The installation is now a part of the permanent collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum
More info at UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery website.

Photos by Viera Levitt, artist
Video of the project by Viera Levitt and University Art Gallery, UMass Dartmouth: The harpoon project: Site-Specific Installation for New Bedford