I listen, and I forget
I see, and I remember
I do, and I understand

- Chinese Proverb

Bessie, 2018


Like Sea Glass: A Hand Full of Light, Hope

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University

Like Sea Glass: A Hand Full of Light, Hope is an interactive installation inspired by the colors and shapes of sea glass. Each installation is site specific.

When I was asked to do an installation under and around Bessie, the Indian Rhinoceros, created by Katharine Lane Weems, I had no idea of the journey that both she and Bessie would set in motion. The life of “Kay Lane,” as she refers to herself in her memoir, Odds Were Against Me, until her marriage to Carrington Weems, is a reference to women, a bygone culture and era, and the juxtaposition of women, family, and art in both Boston and New York. She interned with Anna Hyatt Huntington and Brenda Putnam. Charles Grafly and George Demetrios advised her throughout her career. Bessie is a copy of one of a pair of Rhinos, Victoria and Elizabeth, named after queens of England that are on display outside of the Biological Laboratories building at Harvard University.

My original intention was to create awareness of Rhinos and their endangered status. However, my installation has become a monument to sustainability, hope, and the determination of Katharine Lane Weems. The Indian Rhino was nearly extinct, with only a few hundred left, when she wrote her memoir in 1985. Today there are more than 3,500 in existence thanks to conservation efforts from Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities. I was surprised, felt hope, and encouraged to see the positive results of human intervention in the natural world. Sometimes, we feel, as artists, we are not able to make a difference. We feel that our efforts are unsupported and yet, wouldn’t Katherine Weems be surprised that her talent and perseverance created interest in many species that might have become extinct if people hadn’t noticed and admired her sculpture. I am very pleased at this significant moment in the history of our country, that my artwork can offer a small example of hope, and that our lives can and do matter. I am grateful for, and honored to have this opportunity through my installation project, to draw attention to the work of Katharine Lane Weems, her relevance to the Museum School in particular, and the natural world in general.

Assisted by:
Toby Milgrim
Magda Petmeza