contemporary art | Montclair Art Museum
(MAM) & Yard School of Art offer American, Native American, & contemporary art exhibitions, programs, & classes in NJ

Montclair Art Museum Presents First Major Museum Solo Exhibition of Philemona Williamson




Metaphorical Narratives spotlights 20 paintings spanning Williamson’s career
and two new site-specific installations


September 16, 2017–January 7, 2018


MONTCLAIR, NJ, August 10, 2017—Opening September 16, 2017 at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM), Philemona Williamson: Metaphorical Narratives is the first museum retrospective of Montclair-based and nationally renowned contemporary artist Philemona Williamson. Primarily spotlighting her metaphorically rich, narrative paintings, the exhibition is accompanied by two site-specific installations illuminating the artist’s creative process. The exhibition will be on view through January 7, 2018.


In Roberts Gallery, a selection of 20 paintings spans Williamson’s career from 1988 to the present. Williamson’s dynamic paintings primarily feature figures of indeterminate age and ethnicities engaged in evocative actions fraught with mystery and universal significance. Often autobiographically inspired, the paintings do not focus on conveying a story, but rather present an underlying idea or emotion. Poetically titled, these works invite viewers to use their imaginations to interpret their open-ended narratives. The artist’s use of vibrant colors and firmly modeled yet generalized forms within timeless, invented spaces is the foundation for her skillful negotiation between metaphor and narrative.


In complement to these paintings, two site-specific installations reveal Williamson’s creative process. Full of pentimenti (traces of previous compositions), her large figurative paintings are based on a process of trial and error. She is inspired by her memories and a range of objects in her studio, including a lifelong fascination with dolls. In Laurie Art Stairway, In the Studio, a composite photograph on poplin, captures Williamson’s “Inspiration Wall” in her studio. In the Constable Rotunda gallery, four large abstracted dolls adopt and transform traditional topsy-turvy folk art dolls.


“Williamson’s work is spellbinding and beautifully crafted,” said Lora Urbanelli, MAM director. “Viewing her paintings, I find myself entangled in a web of emotions, memories, and thoughts about the nature of a lifetime of social relationships.“  


“I have been intrigued with Williamson’s work ever since featuring one of her paintings in the 2003 exhibition at the Montclair Art Museum, Growing Up: Childhood in American and Native American Art,” Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator adds. “I am so pleased to have the opportunity to delve further into the complexities of her visually and intellectually compelling work.”


The exhibition is curated by Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator. A fully illustrated 32-page catalogue will accompany the show, with an essay by Stavitsky.





“I paint figures depicting individuals of varying ethnicities inhabiting timeless, invented, dream-like environments. I probe the psychological landscape of adolescence, blurring the lines between race, gender, and class.” – Philemona Williamson


Philemona Williamson lives in Upper Montclair and maintains her studio in East Orange, NJ. She holds a BA from Bennington College and an MA from New York University. Nationally renowned, she has received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, a Pollock-Krasner Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in painting, among others. Williamson is represented by June Kelly Gallery in New York. Her work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Mint Museum of Art, Sheldon Museum of Art, and the Hampton University Art Museum. She has also taught at Parsons School of Design, Cooper Union, and other venues.





A Conversation with Philemona Williamson

Thursday, November 9, 7 p.m.

Join MAM for an engaging conversation between the Museum’s chief curator Gail Stavitsky and artist Philemona Williamson. Montclair-based and nationally renowned, Williamson is currently spotlighted at MAM in her first major museum solo exhibition.


Family Day: Exploring Our Environment

Sunday, November 12, 1–4 p.m.

Participate in a day of themed exploration with many dynamic activities reflecting MAM’s current exhibitions Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event and Philemona Williamson: Metaphorical Narratives.


Master Class: Philemona Williamson
Saturday, November 18, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

How can our personal memories inform the artwork we create today? Take an artist-led tour of Philemona Williamson: Metaphorical Narratives and Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event for inspiration. Explore the theme of identity with master artist Philemona Williamson as you create highly personalized narrative works. Recommended for intermediate to advanced artists and art educators with experience in oil, tempera, watercolor, or collage, and those who have a willingness to take creative risks! Bring photos or personal items to add to the class inspiration wall, art supplies, and a bag lunch. A recommended supply list will be available upon registration.



Image: Philemona Williamson, Limbs, 2016. Oil on linen. Collection of Philemona Williamson. Image courtesy of the artist.



Dannielle Tegeder: Infrastructure Opens June 5



Dannielle Tegeder: Infrastructure on view June 5, 2016–June 2017


MONTCLAIR, NJ, May 13, 2016—Beginning June 5, 2016, the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) will present new works by artist Dannielle Tegeder in MAM’s Laurie Art Stairway and on the outdoor video monitors. Infrastructure features a site-specific wall installation, large-scale mobile, and series of animations that merge the interior and exterior spaces of the Museum. The exhibition is curated by Alexandra Schwartz, MAM curator of contemporary art, and will be on view through June 2017.


Each piece in the exhibition is its own imagined urban system that also reacts to the surrounding architecture. Prominently featured in the Laurie Arts Stairway, a wall of glass windows allows the artwork on view to be visible from the street and viewers to see out on to the Museum’s grounds and beyond to the Manhattan skyline. The wall installation and mobile draw from the infrastructure that exists behind the Museum’s walls as well as reflect what is going outside of them. A complementary pair of animations on MAM’s outdoor video monitors are digital renderings of drawings that are set to motion to rhythms of contemporary classical composer Matthew Evan Taylor. The original drawing for the animation Zeolfrora is a recent acquisition to MAM’s collection.


“We are thrilled that Dannielle is making this extraordinary suite of site-specific works for the Montclair Art Museum,” said Schwartz. “The Laurie Arts Stairway functions as both an indoor and outdoor space. Dannielle’s installation and mobile go one step further by taking inspiration not only from what’s on view from the staircase but also what’s hidden behind the Museum’s walls.”


Dannielle Tegeder is a New York–based artist raised in a family of steamfitters, whose fascination with architecture, urbanism, and engineering inspire her abstract drawings, paintings, installations, and illustrations. Her work explores abstraction, and has begun to include large-scale installation, sculptural objects, video, sound, and animation.  


Tegeder received her BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase and her MFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been presented in over 100 gallery exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and she has participated in numerous institution exhibitions including PS1/MOMA, The New Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Tegeder’s work is also in the permanent collections of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and The Weatherspoon Museum of Art in Greensboro, N.C. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the City University of New York at Lehman College.


This exhibition is also part of MAM’s New Directions series, the centerpiece of the Museum’s contemporary art program. New Directions was founded in 2011 to engage the community with new work that is at once accessible and thought provoking. The contemporary art series has featured artists including Marina Zurkow, Saya Woolfalk, Spencer Finch, and Noah Klersfeld.


Media Contacts

Michael Gillespie, 973-259-5134


Catherine Mastrangelo, 973-259-5119



Celebrate Arts and Culture at the Montclair Art Museum's Gala of the Arts

Celebrate Arts and Culture at the Montclair Art Museum’s



Saturday, April 11


MONTCLAIR, NJ, March 5, 2015—The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) invites you to a celebration of arts and culture, the Gala of the Arts, on Saturday, April 11. MAM galas draw a demographically diverse audience from the tri-state region including patrons of the arts, civic leaders, and generous members of the business community in support of the Museum. Last year, the Museum marked its 100th anniversary with the Centennial Ball celebrating its history of service to the community. As the Museum enters its second century, the Gala of the Arts looks forward by collaborating with artists of today.


MAM will highlight the work of contemporary artists and celebrate their contribution to the community with a cocktail reception and seated dinner. Art will be integrated throughout the evening including artist-designed table installations and art happenings highlighting the rich diversity of artistic creation. Participating artists to date include Mona Brady, Gwen Charles, Willie Cole, Linda Ippolito, Diane Israel, Joyce Korotkin, Jennifer Levine, Susan Marx, Tom Nussbaum, Janet Taylor Pickett, Claire Rosen, Bill Westheimer, and Lisa Westheimer.


The event is co-hosted by Margo & Frank Walter, Ann & Mel Schaffer, Lisa & Joe Amato, and Tracy Higgins & Jim Leitner. The gala committee includes Sylvia Cohn, Holly English, Lynn Glasser, Wendy Lacey, Joanne Langbein, Fritzi Mills, Roz Murphy, Claudia Placentra, Lyn Reiter, and Tesie Tores.


The cocktail hour will begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $500 and can be purchased online at For more information, contact Lauren Drew at All proceeds support exhibitions and educational programs at the Montclair Art Museum.