NORTH ADAMS -- Now open for summer hours, the easily overlooked Chapel for Humanity by Eric Rudd contains a contemporary sculptural epic that includes more than 150 life-sized figures. In addition, the artist has created 54 ceiling panels containing more than 200 monotype/painted figures assembled in low relief.
Rudd first began the sculptural epic in 1991. Working on and off for the next decade, it was conceived of as an installation in the present structure when the church was acquired in 1996. The epic was finished and installed during the summer of 2001 and was first opened to the public on Dec. 15, 2001. It is now part of the Rudd Art Museum.
The main sculptural work is made of painted acrylic enamel on spray polyurethane foam over wood and fabric. The figures are approximately life-size or larger. Figurative groups are placed on "islands" with footpaths that allow the viewer to walk into and through the many scenes. A balcony allows the entire installation to be viewed from above.
An adjacent room contains floating figures above an ash-colored terrain. This installation/memorial is dedicated to the 9/11 victims. Other rooms contain additional sculptural reliefs as well as a gallery of figurative drawings by the artist.
A Chapel for Humanity is housed in a historically important structure (built 1893, formerly the Unitarian-Universalist Church).
The public will find many references to both religious and social history as well as current political conditions, especially as it relates to the tragic events of September 11.
The city of North Adams is known for its contemporary art venues and for its many church steeples. This project integrates contemporary art into one of the city’s important historical architectural gems.
Rudd is a well-known sculptor/mixed media artist. His work is in many museum and private collections in the United States, Europe and Asia. He works with new technological processes and materials including robotics, industrial spray polyurethanes and blow molded polycarbonates. He is the creator of the Dark Ride Project, a 15,000 square-foot exhibition that included an actual ten-minute ride on the robotic "Sensory Integrator." It was opened to the public from 1996 until 2006. Eric Rudd founded and for ten years directed the Contemporary Artists Center, a not-for-profit artists’ studio residency and exhibition facility. He has been the recipient of fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan Foundation. He is the author of the books, The Art Studio/Loft Manual - For Ambitious Artists and Creators, The Art World Dream - Alternative Strategies for Working Artists and Strategies for Serious Older Artists.
To respect the nature of the work and place, visitors are asked not to talk or take photographs. Due to the mature nature of the content and fragility of the sculptures, children must be accompanied by an adult. There is no admission, although donations are appreciated.
A Chapel for Humanity is located at 82 Summer St. at Post Office Square in North Adams. Summer hours: Thursday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Rudd Art Museum and A Chapel for Humanity are supported by the not-for-profit Barbara and Eric Rudd Art Foundation. For additional information or private tours: 413-664-9550, Info@RuddArtMuseum.org.