April 13, 2021

Sea Shanties and the Environment: PEMcast episode 21, Part 2

by joeyphoenix

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We continue Episode 21 of the PEMcast with Part 2, an episode dedicated to PEM’s new Climate and Environment Initiative.

The episode features Mary Malloy, a classically trained musician and performer who taught American maritime history and culture at The Sea Semester program out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Malloy has spent her career looking at how historic sea voyages affected the islands of the South Pacific. A recent exhibition at PEM examines similar themes. Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks uses the shipwreck as a warning for our planet. We hear from Rockman who says we’re currently living inside one of his paintings with the COVID 19 pandemic.

Alexis Rockman, The Sinking of the Brig Helen, 2017. Oil on dibond. Courtesy of David Roth and Heifara Rutgers, New York.
The team interviews Alexis Rockman. Photo by Kristen Levesque
Photo by Dinah Cardin

Janey Winchell, Director of PEM’s Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center explains the museum’s mission for ecological justice as we take a walk on Salem’s Derby Wharf.

“There’s both the environmental impact that people are concerned about, to places like Derby Wharf. And then there’s the historic structures, of which Salem has a rich complement of historic properties,” says Winchell. “There’s concern about what’s going to happen to those places, with sea level rise and intensive storms.”

Speaking of storms, we take a few moments to remember the Perfect Storm that sank the Andera Gail, taking Gloucester fishermen with her, 30 years ago.

Photo by Dinah Cardin
Photo by Dinah Cardin

The episode then takes us through an exhibition coming this May to PEM, In American Waters. The exhibition explores how artists, for more than 200 years, have been inspired to capture the beauty, violence, poetry and transformative power of the sea in American life. Visitors will be transported across time and water on the wave of a diverse range of modern and historical artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Kay WalkingStick, Jacob Lawrence and Amy Sherald. In the episode, our Maritime Curator, Dan Finamore, shares about the universal kinesthetic experience of the sea, shared by us all.

Kay WalkingStick, New Hampshire Coast, 2020. Oil on panel. Collection of the artist. ©Kay WalkingStick. Courtesy of the Artist. Photography by Rich Schultz.

Thanks for listening. Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks is on view through May 31. In American Waters begins May 29. For more on these exhibitions or to learn more about our climate and environment initiative, go to pem.org. This show was produced for the Peabody Essex Museum by me, Dinah Cardin, and it was edited and mixed by Perry Hallinan. The PEMcast is generously supported by The George S. Parker fund. The waves you hear on this episode were recorded off the coast of Maine by sound designer and composer Marcus Thorne Bagalà.

In keeping with our themes of maritime and song, this summer look for a return visit from Scottish Turner prize winning performance artist Susan Philipsz. Some of you may remember her 2011 site specific sound performance in PEM’s East India Marine Hall, involving a beautiful woman, a handsome devil and a ship on a stormy sea.

© 2011 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Walter Silver

Creative Collective is celebrating the ways we can get outside this Spring with their #SpringOnTheNorthShore campaign, an initiative created to highlight the best that springtime North of Boston has to offer on the longer, warmer days. 

Area businesses can participate in the event by using the hashtag #SpringOnTheNorthShore and tagging @creativecollectivema and @creativenorthshore in posts on social media highlighting ways their businesses are encouraging people to get out and explore the best of the region this Spring.