September 24, 2013

In the Spirit of Fall, Gourds and Harvest!

Gourds - A Creative Commons Licensed Image
Gourds – A Creative Commons Licensed Image

When one thinks of gourds, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something you put outside around your carved pumpkins at Halloween or decorations for your Thanksgiving table. But did you know gourds have been important to the practice of art since prehistoric times? For those of you who are unfamiliar, a gourd is a hard shelled fruit which has historically been used by many ancient cultures. Before the invention of pottery, gourds were used for both decorative and utilitarian purposes. In AAC’s latest exhibition, Gourds: Origins and Originals, eight different regional contemporary artists have explored various techniques and methods to create several original works of art all made out of gourds.

Doug Retzler's "Gourd Funkalele"
Doug Retzler’s “Gourd Funkalele”

In various prehistoric cultures, gourds were used for storytelling and given as gifts, with some of them being quite elaborate in their ornamentation. Since gourds have tough exteriors, they are ideal surfaces for carving, engraving, staining, or pyro-engraving (burning). They also make good musical instruments, because of their ability to keep their shape when hallow. This exhibition contains a little bit of everything when it comes to objects you can make out of gourds! Some must-sees include Doug Retzler’s Gourd Funkalele, Percy Medina’s Globe and Nazca Lines, and C. Angela Mohr’s Gourdhead Doll.

Percy Medina's "Globe"
Percy Medina’s “Globe”

The artists involved were influenced by various cultural traditions and significances when creating these works, in addition to their personal interests. The exhibition as a whole helps to illustrate the history of using gourds for tools and art, but also serves to bring gourds into an exhibition space as a modern medium for contemporary works of art.

This exhibition isn’t the only place where you will see gourds at AAC. If you have passed by us recently, you may be wondering what the large structures in the front are. This is called the Gourd Palace Spirit House and it’s a creation of artist Doug Retzler, mentioned above. We will be celebrating this structure as well as the upcoming fall season with our Harvest Festival on October 12th! There will be food and fun for the whole family so we encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the day with us. And if you haven’t already, pay us a visit and come see these fantastic and unique works of art here at AAC.


Written by Katherine Roper, AAC’s Marketing & Development Intern


Golden: Fifty Years of New Classics

UPCOMING: Opens June 15, 2024

Curated by Al Miner

Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington is proud to present Golden: Fifty Years of New Classics, an exhibition celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Summer Camp Registration

June 17 – August 16

Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington offers a wonderful and wide range of creative summer camps for your creative students! Camps are offered for kids starting at age 5 and up to teens ages 18.

Zaq Landsberg: Reclining Liberty

August 5, 2023 - July 28, 2024

Front Lawn
MoCA Arlington and Arlington Public Art are thrilled to co-sponsor the installation of Zaq Landsberg’s celebrated Reclining Liberty on the Museum’s front lawn.