Voc Ed: Road trip to MOCA (not Mecca…)!
Yesterday, Voc Ed had a wonderful trip to North Adams, MA to the Museum of Contemporary Art. The bus traveled through beautiful countryside, there was nice background music and lots of shmoozing, and spirits were high. What a brilliantly chosen destination; here is the Museum’s self-description, and from our participants’ reports none of this is overstated:
“MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest centers for making and enjoying today’s most evocative art. With vast galleries and a stunning collection of indoor and outdoor performing arts venues, MASS MoCA is able to embrace all forms of art: music, sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new, boundary-crossing works of art that defy easy classification. Much of the work we show in our light-filled spaces, on our technically sophisticated stages, and within our lovely network of late 19th-century courtyards is made here during extended fabrication and rehearsal residencies that bring hundreds of the world’s most brilliant and innovative artists to North Adams all year round. We thrive on helping artists make work that is fresh, forward-looking, and engaging of the mind, body, and spirit…but we also believe that both our guest artists and audiences should enjoy their time with us. Our campus features free parking, affordably priced cafés, a full-service restaurant, delicious ice cream, great coffee, and an innovative microbrewery that spotlights locally malted grains and hops grown in our own Berkshire valley.”
It is apparent that our participants delved deeply into the experience. And icing on the cake: the group feasted on a pack out aruchat tzaharyim (lunch) that was specially prepared by…who else? Their very own Voc Ed food prep crew!
The museum itself was very accessible and visitor-friendly, and our entourage was able to circulate in small groups via self-guided tours. Participant Debbie said that some of her favorite exhibits were the music room, “because we could play with all the instruments; they were in cool shapes; and we could actually play the instruments!” She also loved the Sol LeWitt art: “it was cool, with many different colors and shapes. There were huge murals and a mixture of brights, darks, black and white”.
Voc Ed Tzevet (staff) member Anna Elfenbaum explained that the Sol LeWitt exhibit was perfect not only at MOCA itself, but also as the basis for their peulat erev (evening activity) upon the group’s return. Tzevet member Matt Levine gave the group Sol LeWitt-like prompts to draw, such as: squares! squares left to right!
There were very interesting pallet caves built in different ways. Some were so tall that they were large enough for the group to go inside. Inside each “cave”, there were different sensory experiences: special sounds, things to touch, and smells. In another exhibit, there was a long black room that was pitch black with no lights. At the end of the room, there was a glass window like at an aquarium. Inside the glass, it looked like an ice surface that was lit via a skylight. In the middle there was a square hole, with a ladder in it. Once per hour — a MOCA staff person dressed in white emerged into the space, and took a cold ice-water plunge into the water.