The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley will host “A Life in Letters: Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher,” a mixed media installation by Kristin Malin. This exhibition will be housed in the Museum’s Corn Barn from August through October.
Seven years ago, a leather bound volume of letters, with dates from 1813 to 1855, was found in a packing box. The letters were from Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher to her mother, Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington. The letters serve as a poignant, sweet and detailed glimpse into their lives, amidst the social fabric of the time. Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington began collecting her daughter’s letters from her daughter’s first visit away from home, a tradition that continued throughout their lives. This abiding practice, nurtured and passed along by the women in the Huntington family, is as relevant today, as it will transcend for generations to come.
Kristin Malin and Elizabeth Hunting Wheeler, a descendent of Elizabeth Porter Huntington, spent five summers transcribing the collection letters. Elizabeth typed into her computer while Kristin deciphered the old fashioned cursive writing in ink on the delicate pages. For “A Life In Letters” Malin transcribed onto long scrolls of paper in ink sections of the letters to impart a sense of Elizabeth Porter Huntington Sessions and what her life was like in the mid-1800’s. The letters, and Kristin’s scrolls, broach many topics including courtship, marriage, family, illness, death, God, religion, travel, education, and love.
Malin, whose husband and daughters are also decedents of the family, created a physical link between herself and Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher by transcribing her letters. In addition to the scrolls, the exhibit also includes portraits of Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher’s descendants, Olivia Birdsall, Katherine Birdsall, and Elizabeth Wheeler.
After receiving a BFA in painting from Louisiana State University, Malin attended the New York Studio School and received an MFA in painting from Columbia University. She participated in an artist residency on Governors Island in New York City and at the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. Malin recently successfully raised funds to print a reproduction of a painting from her residency on Governors Island, a 19 panel folding panorama of New York from Governors Island, which is in the library at Printed Matter in New York. Last year, she co-organized The Piano Roll Project: Shared Sensibilities at Museum LA in Lewiston, Me, in which thirty artists altered player piano rolls. Malin is currently represented by Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Maine.