Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck
A Hatchet to Kill Old Ugly
The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Philadelphia, PA 
October 2, 2014—March 21, 2015

The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) presents Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck: A Hatchet to Kill Old Ugly, an installation inspired by Shaker spirit drawings and magic, that opens on Thursday, October 2, 2014 with a public reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The exhibition, divided into three parts, derives its title from a Shaker name for the Devil—“Old Ugly”—seen in Spirit Drawings, which the Shakers created to describe symbols seen in visions. The first section of the exhibition, in the front windows of The New Temporary Contemporary at 1222 Arch Street, displays arcane tools used to observe the mysteries of nature for viewers on the street. The main gallery houses what, at first, appears to be a faithful reproduction of a Shaker domestic interior, but is in reality a set for an illusionist performance. Lastly, the back room in the gallery is full of baroque color and light along with strangely magical elements, contrasting the front space’s proto-modernist Shaker austerity. Feasley and Swenbeck propose how science, asceticism, and magic are all possible methods of exploring our world, in an exhibition detailing the artists’ fascination with an invisible world that is all around us.

The first two weekends in December, A Hatchet to Kill Old Ugly, a collaborative installation, features interdisciplinary artist Martha McDonald who will perform traditional Shaker songs. Martha McDonald’s work features handcrafted costumes and objects that are activated through gestures of making and unmaking, singing and autobiographical narrative. Her practice focuses on site-specific interventions in historic house museums, libraries and gardens where she develops performative responses to each site’s history and its collection.