BROCKTON, MASSACHUSETTS: "New Sole of the Old Machine: Steampunk Brockton-Reimagining the City of Shoes"

By Amore, B. | Sculpture, June 2017 | Go to article overview

BROCKTON, MASSACHUSETTS: "New Sole of the Old Machine: Steampunk Brockton-Reimagining the City of Shoes"


Amore, B., Sculpture


Fuller CraftMuseum

Steampunk can be described as a fantasy world at the intersection of Victorian history, science fiction, and advanced steam-powered technology. Fuller CraftMuseum curator Beth McLaughlin and "Steampunk Guru"/artist Bruce Rosenbaum recently invited artists to be part of a "retro-future exhibition"-"New Sole of the Old Machine," which used the tenets of steampunk to reimagine the city of Brockton by fusing a modern sensibility with industrial antiques. Participating sculptors were interested in objects not only as artifacts, but also as signifiers of other realities, both past and future. Brockton, known as Shoe City, is still re-discovering itself after a trajectory that led from its heyday in 1897, with 100 shoe companies, to 2009, when the last remaining company, FootJoy, closed its doors.

In the first installation-Rosen - baum's 14-foot-long, animated construction Shumachine-the inventor turns into his creation, his voice surprising visitors at unexpected intervals. The range of re-purposed objects included a gigantic shoe with nails sticking out from the sole, a weathervane, and an ornate antique shoeshine stand that invited viewers to sit while having their photo taken and instantly posted to Facebook- quite a contrast to the laborious production chronicled by the remnants of the shoe trade. Rosenbaum's signature New Sole of an Old Machine spelled out the name of the show using different sizes of soles and heels to bring attention to the various leathers, widths, shapes, and intricate seaming of what is usually hidden in objects that we use every day and take for granted.

Martin Ulman conceived Brockton Gambling on its Past and Future when the town was considering the illfated introduction of a casino. At the center of the piece, an industrial Singer sewing machine stood on its graceful cast-iron stand, a perfect combination of form and function. …

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