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Artifacts from the Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series workshop at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in April 2015

Visitors were asked WHAT WOULD YOU STEAL?
cut photographs, sound, adhesive

Rearranging the Gardner
4 diptychs
Photographs cut by Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series workshop attendees
71.5” x 24”

In 2015 as Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series visiting artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum I asked
visitors “What would you steal”? in a daylong workshop free to the public. During the workshop I invited visitors to remove items from printed images of the galleries impacted by the theft. Xacto knives were provided to mimic the method used to extract paintings during the infamous theft 25 years prior. The cutouts were arranged into designs from the wallpaper pattern left within the frames of the Dutch Gallery , the room with the most loss, as a counter to the depleted photographs.


Visitors were also asked to read descriptions of the museum’s collection for a sound collage arranged by collaborator Todd Bowser. The project took the overwhelming presence of those absent items in the galleries, and paired it with insight into what visitors decided to extract and leave behind in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Rearranging the Gardner is a love letter to an institution that shaped my aesthetic fascinations, including its public display of loss.

Gardner collage
00:00 / 10:34


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