News 2013: UMass Dartmouth CVPA Proudly Presents The Harpoon Project

News 2013: UMass Dartmouth CVPA Proudly Presents The Harpoon Project
UMass Dartmouth CVPA Proudly Presents The Harpoon Project

Installation Celebrates New Bedford's Rich Whaling History

UMass Dartmouth's College of Visual & Performing Arts proudly presents a new site-specific installation by European artist Ilona Németh, entitled The Harpoon Project. This site-specific installation for the city of New Bedford is available for viewing November 14, 2013 to January 26, 2014, at the University Art Gallery at the Star Store Campus of UMass Dartmouth (715 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA 02740). An opening reception is planned for AHA! Night, Thursday, November 14, at 6pm, with an artist talk scheduled for 7pm. 

This installation designed specifically for New Bedford, celebrates the city's rich whaling history by creating a walkway among more than a thousand clay harpoons laid out on the surface of the gallery floor. The piece was inspired by the toggle harpoon, a technological refinement important in the rise of New Bedford's whaling industry, invented in 1848 by former slave, abolitionist, and local resident, Lewis Temple. 

Visitors are invited to experience the seemingly countless harpoon heads aiming at the gallery entrance by looking in through the doorway or by walking slowly among these ceramic handmade - and all slightly different (just like the original iron harpoon heads) - objects. The artist hopes visitors will have a very personal experience with the piece, one that is open to interpretation. 

This unique project is the result of a collaborative effort between the artist and Gallery Director, Viera Levitt.  A "harpoon studio" was created that engaged students and faculty from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and others in the production of this piece for over two months. The list of those who participated in the creation of this exhibition is part of the exhibition experience. 

The gallery is open daily from 9 am -- 6 pm. Closed on major holidays. All events are free and open to the public. Please contact Viera Levitt, to schedule a special harpoon studio visit or talk for student groups. For more information about the artist, visit For more information on the CVPA galleries, go to or 

"After I was invited by Viera Levitt to exhibit at University Art Gallery, I started to study New Bedford and its history, since as a site specific art artist my work derives from a site's historical and cultural historical context, I found the moment when Lewis Temple invented the 'toggle harpoon' to be symbolically a crucial moment for the city, one that influenced its success and economic growth through the rise of the whaling industry," said Ilona Németh. "I was also impressed by the shape and handmade feel of this object in the collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Since CVPA has a Ceramics Department, I was excited about the idea of involving its students and faculty in this project. I am very thankful to the gallery, the ceramics department, and all the volunteers who helped with the installation."