Samantha M. Eckert, Cecelia Kane, Tara Wray | April 29-June 4, 2022

Samantha M. Eckert, Besieged by Wonder | Cecelia Kane, How Am I Feeling Today? 1-89 Days | Tara Wray, Book of Sons

Opening Reception*: Friday, April 29, 5-7PM

*(Masking  optional)

AVA Gallery and Art Center, located at 11 Bank Street in Lebanon, NH, is pleased to present three solo exhibitions featuring: Samantha M. Eckert: Besieged by Wonder | Rebecca Lawrence Gallery Entry and Clifford B. West Gallery; Cecelia Kane: How Am I feeling Today? 1-89 Days | Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery; Tara Wray: Book of Sons | E.N. Wennberg GalleryThree Vermont artists working in multiple disciplines; each artist’s unique voice embodies an overlap of content informed by interests in ancestry, family lore, identity, mapping time, and memory.

Samantha M. Eckert | Besieged by Wonder. “This body of work was initiated at the beginning of the stay-at-home order in April of 2020. While visiting family in New Mexico, I found myself stranded there for several months. Working with my hands and making things is cathartic and necessary, so I began knitting a rainbow. Knitting a rainbow was a conduit, an attempt at tethering, and it symbolizes our collective longing for connection. The rainbow is personally significant as it is a poignant remembrance of my mother. Rainbow and sky themes weave into other works throughout the exhibition. The work is informed by an awareness of the world around me, current events, and my interest in how affect and myth shape memory. While engaged in a layered practice steeped in labor and time, I use materials that hold inherent meaning, evoke personal memory, and point to childhood. My ideas are rooted in the notion of wonder and its powerful pull leading me to memories, imaginative thinking, and a craving to recognize transcendent moments every day.”   Samantha M. Eckert

Samantha M. Eckert was born in Glen Cove, NY and raised in Brownsville, VT. She lived in New Mexico for many years and returned to Vermont in 2012. Her imagination and artist’s voice are inspired by childhood days roaming the pastoral Vermont landscape. Eckert earned her MFA in Visual Art in 2015 from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, VT; a Certification in Museum Studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM; and a bachelor’s from Vermont College of Norwich University, Montpelier, VT. She has attended several artist residencies including, Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass, CO; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; La Macina di San Cresci, Greve, Chianti, Italy; and she was a two-time artist in residence at The Studios at MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. Eckert has exhibited in MA, NH, NM, VT, and Italy. She is a Vermont-based, emerging artist and the Exhibition Manager at AVA Gallery.

Click here to visit Samantha M. Eckert’s website

Cecelia Kane | How Am I feeling Today? 1-89 Days. “In this self-portrait series I’m investigating the nature of my Self, which seems to be a mixture of my feelings, thoughts, my deteriorating body, and a strong connection to my mother in the guise of her trove of vintage family handkerchiefs that I wore in the breast pocket of my Catholic grammar school uniform. This work is a study of identity as seen through my bathroom mirror, based on 89 photographs that I took on consecutive days in 2009. At the time, I identified my emotion, embodied that feeling on my face, wrote it in lipstick on my forehead and snapped a selfie. I laser printed the 89 photos on Mom’s hankies, and slowly quilted, beaded and painted on the handkerchiefs for eleven years during quiet times alone, or sitting with friends. 89 is the number of years my mother lived.”  Cecelia Kane.

Cecelia Kane is a painter, fabric artist, performance, video, and earth artist whose work delves inside the universe of self and being. She has performed and exhibited at many art venues across the USA, including Ruby Green Gallery in Nashville, TN; Hallwalls in Buffalo, NY; The Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University; the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Soho 20 New York; and Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles. Kane has been a curator, visiting artist, guest lecturer, performer, community artistic project director, teacher, and graphic producer. She has held numerous residencies and been the recipient of several grants to produce artistic projects, particularly for The Hand to Hand Project, an expansive collaborative work incorporating eight years of artistic commentary on the Iraq War, with 2,000 artworks by 196 national artists at fifteen venues coast to coast. She proudly traces ancestors who arrived in Vermont from the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840’s, and served in the American Civil War, farmed, and worked on the Rutland Railroad. Cecelia Kane lives and creates in Peacham, Vermont

Click here to visit Cecelia Kane’s website

Tara Wray | Book of Sons. “Book of Sons is a photo series and forthcoming photobook inspired by the fact that my identical twin sons don’t recognize themselves in old pictures. They always ask: “Is that me? Or my brother?” This work is an attempt to hold time for them so they may one day look back and find answers. Taking visual cues from my boys, my husband, our dog, and the world we’ve made for ourselves in rural Vermont, I aim to capture the specificity of our place and time, revealing bits of an open-ended life story in the process.  I believe that what is safely contained in a book (or photo or movie or story) lives forever. That’s why I document my family and the things I love so obsessively. For safekeeping. I learned this from my grandmother, who left behind several self-published books of family lore that I only recently re-discovered, and which was a significant inspiration for this work. As with much of my work, Book of Sons revolves around the notion of wanting to connect with loved ones even after I’m gone.”  Tara Wray

Tara Wray is a Vermont-based, multidisciplinary artist with over 20 years of professional experience as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker of autobiographical-based work. Recently, she founded the nonprofit arts organization, Too Tired Project, which seeks to advance mental health advocacy through photography. Her most recent photobook is Year of the Beast, published by Too Tired Press in 2021. Other photobooks include Too Tired for Sunshine (Yoffy Press, 2018), El Dorado Freddy’s (Belt Publishing, 2020), as well as Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long (artist’s book, 2014). Recent exhibitions include Kunst Haus Wien, Museum Hundertwasser, Vienna, Austria; TULCA Festival of Visual Arts in Galway, Ireland; the Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY (solo); and the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN (solo). Her work has been featured on NPR, Vice, Huff Post, Washington Post, Vogue Polska, PHOTONEWS, Hatje Cantz Fotoblog, Monopol-Magazin, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and more. Her photos are held in public and private collections, including Amon Carter Museum of American Art; George Eastman Museum; Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University; Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame; and Dartmouth College Book Arts Workshop. As a filmmaker, she has directed two feature-length documentaries: Manhattan, Kansas (SXSW 2006 Audience Award; Film Society of Lincoln Center, which was broadcast on Kansas PBS and The Documentary Channel) and Cartoon College (Newport Beach Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival).

Click here to visit Tara Wray’s website

Artist talks:

Artist Talk: Cecelia Kane, Mayor Gallery, Saturday, May 7, 2022 | 2:00-3:00 PM,

Artist Talk: Tara Wray, Wennberg Gallery, CANCELED- Saturday, May 21 2022. New date TBD

Artist Talk: Samantha M. Eckert, West Gallery, Friday, May 27, 2022 | 5:30-6:30 PM


Generously Sponsored by:

The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation

 Geokon | Mascoma Bank

Mt. Roeschmore Foundation

West Central Behavioral Health

Doug and Leslie Williamson