Cache, a site-specific public artwork for the Beverly Powder House (1809)
by Liz Nofziger, brings history to the present
BEVERLY, November 16, 2023 — A subtle sculpture cast in bronze has found its place at the base of the Beverly Powder House on Prospect Hill and is now accessible to the public. Built on a hill-top pasture in 1809, the Powder House rests on a tiny plot sold to the city by Nathan Dane (for $30!) to safely store ammunition away from the population. The octagonal brick structure is now surrounded by a densely settled residential neighborhood. It was added to the National Historic Register and restored in 2019.
Directly referencing traditional cast bronze historic markers found around New England, viewers can engage with a three-dimensional bronze QR code to trigger a soundscape that conjures the histories and evolution of the site. The audio composition overlaps with the actual sounds occurring on Prospect Hill in real-time. With minimal intrusion, this contemporary visual cue stands in contrast to the historic structure, urging exploration with a deep-dive into the past, a nod to geocaching, and both humor and wonder.
The two-and-a-half-minute audio composition is built from field recordings, collected sound from revolutionary war reenactments, and improvised sound. After experiencing the audio installation on site, Prospect Hill resident Linda Burke remarked that “even though I recognized so many natural sounds that we hear every day on the hill, the gunshot sent me into another time. I imagined myself laying in a field waiting for wild game, or the enemy, back when the hill was more nature than houses.”
Cache expands the notion of what an experience at a historic site can be, and who these sites are for. Sought out purposefully or discovered by chance, this work brings contemporary art out of the museum and into the public sphere. This work is for everyone.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Beverly Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. Special thanks to Marjee Levine, the City of Beverly, Colleen and Chris Michaels, Emily Hutchings, Darlene Wynne, Montserrat College of Art, Historic Beverly, and my neighbors on Prospect Hill.
Powder House Lane, Prospect Hill, Beverly, MA
Press Images can be found here.
cache (n. \ ‘kash \)
1: a hiding place especially for concealing and preserving provisions, ammunition, implements, or treasure; or a secure place of storage
2: something hidden or stored in a cache; an amount of goods or valuables in a hard-to-reach place
3: temporary computer memory with very short access time used for storage of frequently or recently used instructions or data.
Liz Nofziger was born in Indianapolis in 1974 and grew up in a small Mennonite community in southern Indiana. Her site-specific installation work examines relationships to space within the physical, architectural, political, and pop-cultural landscape. Employing a broad range of media including sculptural elements, video, light, audio, and text, viewer investigation completes her work.
Her projects have been exhibited in galleries and public spaces across the United States and abroad, recently with the premiere of More Perfect Places, a site-based celebratory theatre project with Seth Bockley, Tanya Palmer, and Angela Tillges. The project was inspired by the 19th century utopian history of New Harmony, Indiana and its evolution into a space for contemporary art and architecture. Part community gathering, part formal theatre, and part outdoor multimedia extravaganza, this work mined the archives and utopian visions of contemporary southern Indiana middle schoolers to explore the power of idealism, imagination, and rethinking the world we live in.
As the first Artist-in-Residence (AIR) at the Brookline Public Library in 2016, Nofziger collected personal Library Stories from patrons to catalog relationships to these generally beloved transformational public spaces. From these stories, she created a constellation of small ruptures in the norm using color, light, audio, text and sculptural interventions spread throughout the building, inside and out.
In 2014 she created Bounce, a triple-wide communal Ping Pong table that she amplified to form a mutant game/instrument as the Public Artist in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts. The piece was free and open to the public on the Tremont Street Plaza around the clock.
Nofziger is currently part of Alpha-60, a sci-fi inspired augmented reality exhibition that’s animating the Emerald Necklace from Franklin Park to the Fenway. She has had solo exhibitions at Galéria Ateneo (Medellin, Colombia), the Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), Kult 41 (Bonn, Germany), the Contemporary Artists Center (North Adams, MA), and Montserrat College of Art (Beverly, MA), among others.
Nofziger earned her MFA at Massachusetts College of Art, where she taught for many years. She currently teaches at Montserrat College of Art. Since 2019, she has been living, working, and finding community on the North Shore.