"The Hypogean Tip” is a solo show by Rachel Owens at the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, CT. The exhibition explores both Bridgeport’s and our larger nation’s past, and will run from February 6 through March 21, 2020. The show is comprised of sculptures rendered in various materials, including large-scale casts in broken glass from the porch of the home of Mary Freeman (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and works cast in coal and marble dust that invoke P.T. Barnum’s specter as well as his adverse impact.

Focusing on the relationship between what was before and what is to come, Owens’ work weaves together, both literally and figuratively, the surface and substrata of the ground to reveal its structure, material, and history. The porch sculptures, part of an ongoing project entitled Life on the Other Side of a Cracked Glass Ceiling, are a platform for visitors to climb and stand on while reimagining the site and the accounts it holds. This portion of the exhibit allows us to reimagine the radical past of the Freeman sisters and offers the potential for recreation.

“Imprints of porch floors, grasses, shells and leaves embedded within richly colored cast glass document the cultural geography of Bridgeport’s South End,” said Robbin Zella, Director of Housatonic Museum of Art, “enticing us to learn about the people and politics of everyday life in Little Liberia.”

Industrialization and capitalistic forces quickly swept away most of a burgeoning community and have caused generations of both ecological and human collateral in the area. In the back gallery, a stovepipe hat becomes a smokestack, “shell-scapes” cast from exoskeletons found along Long Beach and the Great Meadows Marsh, and an amphibious figure focus on the underlying causes for the decimation of Little Liberia.

Programming to accompany the exhibition will also take place:

February 20, 2020 @ 5:30 PM featuring Laura Ortman

With varied natural and urban instrumentation, Laura Ortman, White Mountain Apache, makes music known for compositions that alternate lyrical intimacy with layered improvisation, often experimenting with four-track tapes and remixing her own audio catalogue in an evolving dialogue with herself. On Thursday February 20, she will engage the scaffolded sculptures of Owens’ exhibit in a concert playing violin as well as employing native instruments and digital effects.


March 5, 2020 530 PM featuring Lachell Workman

Lachell Workman, will engage with the history of housing in Bridgeport, CT spanning from the work of the Freeman Sisters during the mid-1800’s tying into the history of public housing in Bridgeport. Utilizing two automatic slide projectors Workman will perform a series of choreographed movements that respond to the projected images of the following housing projects, many of which have since been demolished in the city of Bridgeport: Father Panik Village, The Greene Houses, Marina Village, and P.T. Barnum Apartments. Following the performed movements she will transition to being seated on a scaffold and invite 4 selected guests to recall memories of living in these housing projects.

Rachel Owens received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999 and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Through a feminist lens her work focuses on issues of hierarchical social conditions, consumption of the environment and the points where these things intersect. Taking various forms, she uses materials that once existed with a specific function, reassigning them within a different context and creates new meaning. She is Assistant Professor of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase College and Chair of the Sculpture Department..

Owens’ work has been included in exhibitions both in the US and internationally including The X Krasnoyarsk Biennial, RU; Franco Soffiantino Contemporary, IT; Austrian Cultural Forum, NY; The Frist Museum of Art, TN; Socrates Sculpture Park,LIC; New Museum Window, NY and ZieherSmith Gallery, among others. She has been reviewed in the New York Times, New Yorker, Sculpture Magazine and Hyperallergic and has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Harpo Foundations.

The Housatonic Museum of Art is located on the Housatonic Community College campus, 900 Lafayette Blvd. in Bridgeport. It is home to one of the premier college art collections in the United States. The museum’s collection offers the opportunity to view works that span the history of art from the ancient to the contemporary and is on continuous display throughout the 300,000 square foot facility. Visit www.HousatonicMuseum.org to learn more.

Installation view: The Hypogean Tip by Rachel Owens

Installation view: The Hypogean Tip by Rachel Owens

Installation view: The Hypogean Tip by Rachel Owens

Installation view: The Hypogean Tip by Rachel Owens

Installation view: The Hypogean Tip by Rachel Owens


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