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HOLYOKE — A unique exhibit will take over the Wistariahurst Museum gallery from Feb. 6-27 that combines pieces of art with music, creating a new and engaging atmosphere in the arts space.

Erika Slocumb, the artist behind “Abstract Revelry: A Visual and Audio Experience,” told Reminder Publishing the idea came from discussions between her and a friend about the need for interactive exhibits.

“When I see the paintings, they usually invoke a playlist in my mind based on what I was listening to when I created them. Some of my paintings were influenced by music and I created them based on the sounds I was hearing,” Slocumb explained. “I love this experience and want to share it with everyone.”

Slocumb’s artwork is intricate and multidimensional, making it a unique perspective on how art comes in many forms. While creating an interactive space for her exhibit was important, she added it was also important for her to make sure this exhibit was done in a way where those with disabilities could also enjoy the full experience after receiving some feedback from past exhibits.

With her creative process already used to using music for inspiration, the combination of the two add another layer to the pieces of art in combination with one another.

“My art has been either informed by music or part of my process is listening to songs that kind of inspire me to paint and so from that this idea of collaborating music with art was born,” Slocumb said.

Visitors of the exhibit will be able to view each piece that will have a song or playlist QR code to scan in order to listen to music while checking out the art. Slocumb said she has listened to various genres of music throughout her life but has a passion for soul and jazz music.

“I loved this idea of soul and jazz, so I was really big into Erykah Badu, Solange — this eclectic, really soulful kind of music and so I feel like that kind of always influenced me,” Slocumb said. “I think a lot of my art recently has had that kind of influence of like spirituality and how we are connecting with ourselves, the earth, the people around us, and this real strong presence of Black love and Black spirituality.”

As a thoughtful exhibit curator and scholar, Slocumb is involved with the Black Holyoke Oral History Project, a project started through Historic Holyoke at Wistariahurst that was founded in thanks to a grant awards.

The grant goes to support small organizations in working with their historical collections and Wistariahurst has used the funding to help uncover the history of the black community in Holyoke.

“The striking absence of African Americans from the archival records in Holyoke, and the degree of neglect of the topic among scholars, made the project a crucial investment in the history of Western Massachusetts,” it states from Mass Humanities website on the project. “Led by scholar Erika Slocumb, the goal of the project was to uncover the problems, joys, pain and struggles Black people in Holyoke faced in their daily lives from the 18th century to the present. The experiences of Black community members in Holyoke connect to national themes, from Civil Rights activism to school integration, red-lining, white flight and the post-industrial economy.”

Slocumb became a perfect match for the project as she was working on her dissertation at the time and was focused on delving into the stories of Black people and their experiences in the region.

“As I got to meet a lot of the elders in the community and just like young folks in the community, I realized that while the archive was lacking a lot of the broader history of Black folks, and I think the general public knowledge of the history of Holyoke was lacking this Black conversation,” Slocumb said. “There were missing narratives, so I think the further that we get along with it, the more I realize that the most recent interaction was really looking at those missing pieces.”

Open hours for Slocumb’s latest exhibit will be on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. from Feb. 6-27. Admission to Abstract Revelry is free and open to the public. To learn more and plan a visit, go to https://new.wistariahurst.org/events/month.2024-02/.

Slocumb said she hopes those who visit the exhibit find some sort of connection with the pieces through the unique format.

“My hope is that folks connect with some of the art. A lot of is rooted in my own kind of emotional processes and I hope that for those who can see the art can connect with the visual aspect, and those who are interested in the listening aspect can connect with the music in a way that really touches them in ultimately a spiritual and emotional way,” Slocumb said.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts