NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

June 12, 2014

'Across the Bridge'

Art students portray legacy of Salem power plant and its workers

Salem Harbor Station has been taken offline, but it will go into service as an art gallery starting next week.

“Across the Bridge,” an exhibit celebrating the plant and the people who worked there, features works in several mediums by students from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly.

The exhibit is free, but visitors are required to register in advance and must possess a driver’s license or passport to be admitted to the power plant.

The show’s title refers to a quote that was given to students at the beginning of a course in which they visited the power plant and interviewed its workers.

“Robert Coles said engaging in a documentary is like stepping across a threshold into someone else’s world,” said Ethan Berry of Beverly, one of three faculty members who led the class. “For our students, what it means is getting out in the world.”

The works they created hang on walls that were erected between the station’s turbines, in an interior space that also houses several floors of pipes, ducts and stairways.

The art incorporates what they saw and learned during their visits and falls into two rough categories.

“Some of them responded more visually to the space, and then later began to incorporate the words of the workers,” Berry said. “Others responded to interviews with the workers.”

Visitors tired of craning their necks to look up at the buildings should enjoy Michelle Behre’s color photos, which were taken from one of the smokestacks and mostly look down at the buildings and grounds.

Danielle Renino photographed four places in the plant where colors and shapes caught her eye, including a hallway and a cluster of pink pipes. Three of her pictures are accompanied by colorful pieces of cloth, sewn together in collages the size of a knee patch, which give a sense of the texture in what we see.

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