3S Artspace Combines Creativity with Contemporary Issues

3S Artspace, a non-profit contemporary arts organization, is nestled on a quiet little corner of downtown Portsmouth’s Vaughan Street. Focused on the intersection of art and contemporary issues, 3S has hosted numerous exhibits, performances, films and more in the 6 years since they opened.

Maybe you’ve wandered in during one of Portsmouth’s Art Round Town nights, or maybe you’ve snagged some tacos and whiskey from their partner, award-winning restaurant, Barrio. Whether or not you’ve visited before, trust us when we say you do not want to miss their upcoming exhibits: A Quiet Reach, featuring works by Daniel Minter, and Vision & Visibility, a group exhibit of works by emerging BIPOC artists.

The exhibits launch November 19th, after almost 2 years of planning and postponing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with our friends at Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH), who were originally slated to host artist Daniel Minter’s work in the spring of 2020, 3S Artspace has poured a ton of thought and energy into this program. They are not to be missed!

A look behind the scenes of 3S Artspace’s upcoming exhibits, with Executive Directer Beth Falconer

Like many cultural spaces across America, 3S is actively examining the way they think about diversity and equity in the arts world. ReVision had a chance to speak with 3S Executive Director Beth Falconer recently, and learned more about the motivation and experience creating these new exhibits. Our interview with Beth was consolidated and is shared below in written and video form.

How did the Vision and Visibility exhibit come together?

“Vision and Visibility was something that came together because of many points that were going on in contemporary culture,” says Beth, pointing specifically to the 2020 killing of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. At that time, many questions started being raised in the arts and culture space, like “whose work was being shown?” and “what do staffs and boards look like at clubs, museums, theaters, and galleries?”. The discussions prompted by these questions led to a reexamining of processes previously thought inclusive, and Beth explains how new procedures and partnerships helped achieve greater access and inclusion for exhibits like Vision and Visibility.

With Daniel Minter anchoring the exhibit, 3S partnered with BHTNH to put out an open call for BIPOC artists across New England. They were thrilled with the response they got and were faced with some tough decisions as they whittled down the exhibit to the 12 artists you’ll see when you visit.

 

“We want to show work that hasn’t been exhibited in Portsmouth before, by a group of artists whose work has never been shown together,” explains Beth, “and we want the work seen by as many people as possible.”

Tell us about the motive behind the adjacent student-featured exhibit, Culture Keepers, Culture Makers.

Also opening November 19th is an exhibit of student work from 3S’s free 10-week series of workshops called “Culture Keepers, Culture Makers.” The program was developed by Richard Haynes and Kristen Butterfield-Ferrell as a way to reinforce the importance of a safe space to talk about race openly.

“The whole premise is that culture is an incredibly powerful influence,” Beth explains, “everything from pop music to television. So we need to have trained, critical eyes on what came before us, and we need to be very mindful of what we’re putting out in the future. As artists, as people who work in spaces that are fortunate enough to present the work of artists, we need to ask ourselves: how can we look back, what are we learning, why does the imagery look that way and what can we do to bring that conversation forward to be a culture keeper and a culture maker.”

Art, Beth believes, is meant to trigger something. “We are particularly interested, at 3S, in the intersection of art and contemporary issues, but we also have room for art for art’s sake. The last thing you want is to walk by something and almost not notice it, to have no response. It has to prompt you to feel or to think something. It is in that response that work is interesting.”

When and where can we see these upcoming exhibits?

 

“We gravitate to the known,” Beth says, “but at 3S, we’re really asking you to make some space for the artists of today.”

Upcoming Opportunities to See the Exhibits:

November 18th, 7pm: The Black Matter Is Life Poetry Event with BHTNH
November 19th, 5-8pm: Opening Reception
December 9th, 5-6pm: Join ReVision Energy co-owners and solar champions at our very own viewing of the exhibit!

Thanks to 3S Artspace and the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire