Sea Change

Sep. 1, 2023 to
Jan. 7, 2024
Selections from the Addison’s rich collection of seascapes, maritime art, and model ships exploring the ocean and its shores as spaces of labor, leisure, passage, and peril.

Inextricably intertwined with America’s political, economic, and cultural identity, the sea looms large in the American consciousness. Alluring and seductive, yet rife with danger and mystery, the sea has inspired generations of American artists to create work that grapples with its beauty, scale, and power.

Sea Change presents selections from the Addison’s rich collection of seascapes, maritime art, and model ships to explore the ocean and its shores as spaces of labor, leisure, passage, and danger. In the first gallery, the sea is presented as a source of sustenance and a site of commerce in works that highlight fishing, whaling, shipbuilding, and shipping. In the adjacent gallery, images of recreational sailing and time on the beach evoke the pleasures of lulling waves, cool breezes, and warm sand. A gallery across the rotunda is dedicated to the movement of people across oceans and the ways those transits have shaped the American experience, juxtaposing images of exploration, immigration, and sea travel with works that contend with the brutal histories of colonialization and the transatlantic slave trade. A connected gallery presents works that convey the perils of the sea, from churning waves that threaten to capsize vessels to the wreckage that has washed ashore. Finally, a small selection of works playfully takes up the strangeness and surrealism of the sea and its inhabitants.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Sidney R. Knafel Fund.

Related Exhibition Materials

Digital Portfolio

See the works included in the exhibition

Video: Wanderer and its Legacy: A Conversation with Margie Scoby

Learn about the real-life history behind Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA’s Wanderer, a model ship that both memorializes the nineteenth-century pleasure yacht turned slave ship and interrogates the relationship between the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, and power.

Addison curators are joined by Margie Scoby, a genealogist, historian, and founder and curator of Finding Our Roots African American Museum in Houma, Louisiana, who discusses the history of this illegal slave ship and her research tracing the stories of those ancestors who survived the transatlantic crossing of the Wanderer, including her own. (Recorded on January 4, 2024)

Installation Views

Virtual Tour

 by Lightshed Photography Studio

Sea Change

Matterport 3D Showcase. Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover MA 01810 United States.

Addison Artist Council logo

Bartlett H. Hayes Prize Recipients

2023:

Reggie Burrows Hodges

Exhibition | Residency | Publication | Acquisition

2025:

To be Announced