Imagine you’re sitting in the center of the Main Gallery of the Berman Museum of Art, and groups of faculty and staff, students, alumni, artists, and construction personnel are situated around you in canvas aprons, equipped with a variety of construction-themed materials. A conductor appears and instructs you and the rest of the audience members to close your eyes and experience all aspects of what was to come – both feelings and sounds. Then suddenly, around the room, waves of rattling nails within paper bags begin to fill the space and ebb and flow around you to varying beats and sound levels. Followed by the sound of the nails entering participants’ aprons and again being shaken furiously, then onto the fierce hammering of nails into wooden sawhorses, stopping and starting in various patterns that enveloped the entire room around you. In sharp contrast to the organized chaos, everything stops at once and silence fills the gallery. You wonder what is coming next..or is the performance over? Without explanation, metal lunch pails are lifted, and all 150 participants simultaneously bite into an apple with a harmonized CRUNCH. Chewing and biting again and again 150 times over, you can almost taste the apple and feel the crispness yourself. Silence again fills the room unexpectedly and the lunch pails are dropped to the floor with a clang. Nailing into the sawhorses is resumed along with banging onto the wood with bare hands and sundry other sounds traveling around you in swirls.
In all, 150 carpenters featured 150 sawhorses, 150 hammers, and over 10,000 nails throughout the performance. The sensory experience is entitled Music for 150 Carpenters and brings participants and audience members down a path to pay homage to those who have collaborated in the building of the College and signifying the growth taking place on campus. It was performed on October 26, 2019 and will be replayed within the performance space through March 28, 2020. The recording is only available to view at the Berman Museum. After March 2020, the video can be viewed on Berman Museum’s website and YouTube page. All Berman events and exhibitions are free and open to the public.
This exhibition was one of many Signature Events being held in honor of Ursinus College’s Sesquicentennial, from August of 2019 until May of 2020. The College’s storied history includes the split of the German Reformed Church in the mid-1800s, which led to the formation of Franklin & Marshall College and Ursinus College, to the introduction of women on-campus, and today as the liberal arts college is recognized nationally.
Bancroft was proud to have been a part of this celebration and is honored to be constructing The Commons building, which will be the front porch to the College upon its completion in the Spring of 2020. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Ursinus and the Collegeville, PA, community into the next 150 years!