Reinventing the Conversation Bench
On view: March 8 – 16, 2019
Opening Reception: March 8, 6-8PM
Call for Entries: Open through Jan.25
In partnership with Westport Arts Advisory Committee, this concept exhibition will take place at the Westport Arts Center in March 2019 and will feature artists that reimagine and reinvent the Victorian-era conversation bench–also known as a tête-à-tête, courting bench, conversation bench, kissing bench and gossip’s chair. This unique piece of French furniture emerged in the 19th century, and translates to head-to-head–describing the early functionality of these seats during the Victorian era. The traditional tête-à-tête seat features chairs with S-shaped, curved backs facing opposite directions that share a center armrest. Early tête-à-tête pieces were designed to enhance many kinds of discrete yet intimate conversations such as courtship.
Our conversation bench project is envisioned as a symbolic way to encourage conversation and civility within our community. We aim to foster dialogue in these polarized times–as people sit, talk and listen, their understanding and tolerance of each other will organically improve. A contemporary re-imagining of the conversation bench will make this project relevant to today’s sensibilities. Our categories—fantastical, functional and collaborative—allow for a wide range of exhibitors with diverse artistic training and abilities.
Our hope is that, ultimately, the winning bench will find a home along the Saugatuck River or be an installation piece that travels around town or becomes part of Westport’s Permanent Art Collection (WestPAC). Creative programming developed by community organizations and centered around the idea of listening is the natural outgrowth of this project.
John Edelman – CEO, Design Within Reach
Patricia Kane – Curator of American Decorative Arts, Yale University Art Gallery
Paul Goldberger – Pulitzer Prize-winning American architecture critic and educator
Fantastical: This work encourages imagination and fantastical ideas and design
Functional: This practical and workable design considers functionality, form and everyday environments.
Collaborative: This is a cross-disciplinary submission, for example, an architect & artist or graphic designer & industrial engineer
Submissions are open now
January 25: Submissions close at 11:59 pm
February 6: Notification of selected artists
March 8–16: Exhibition of Photographs and Drawings
March 8: Opening Reception, 6-8 pm
Call for entries are open now and close at 11:59 pm on January 25, 2019
Digital photographs of prototype/model and/or photographed renderings or drawings will be accepted.
Accepted entries of these digital images will be printed and shown for the exhibition.
One entry is allowed per person. Up to three views of the entry may be submitted. There is a $20 entry fee per artist.
How to photograph your prototype or model:
In moderate sunlight or diffused window light, create a curved backdrop with a white piece of paper, and place your model/
prototype on the paper. Take a high resolution picture that is in focus and clear and captures the prototype’s best angle(s).
Up to 3 views of one prototype may be submitted.
How to photograph your drawing or rendering:
Mount your paper on a flat surface and prop the surface up in moderate sunlight or diffused window light.
Check that the surface of your drawing/rendering is evenly lit, with no shadows or hi-contrast areas.
Take a high resolution picture that is fully in focus. Crop background out before submitting.
*** Submitted images must be high resolution, quality files able to be sized up to 36 inches without loss of quality when printed. Please size and check your files accordingly. Inability to submit hi-resolution files may affect eligibility and consideration ***