The Miller Falls Arts Bridge in Massachusetts and Its Unique Cultural Exchange With China

A bridge is a structure that provides passage over a barrier, forming connections between people, places and time.

The Millers Falls Arts Bridge provides an alternative space for artists to explore their creativity, to reflect, exchange ideas, create new works of art and engage the local community through social practice. Through a range of programs for artists and the local community, MFAB aims to strengthen dialogue between people of different cultures and participate in the economic revitalization of Millers Falls.

Situated at the intersection of the Connecticut River and the Mohawk Trail, for many thousands of years the region was a natural crossroads, a great place to fish and to gather for the area’s native Narragansett, Pocumtuck and Abenaki peoples. For these people, who often conflicted over territory or trade in other places, this region was a sacred place – a place of peace.

I can attest to the beauty of this area myself, having many years ago spent time in the area working as a cook in a local health food restaurant and living above the local liquor store in Bernardston, MA. This is really dating myself! But I have not forgotten the special qualities of this part of New England.

In a unique program of cultural exchange, Millers Falls has begun a dynamic exchange program with artist from China headed up by Director Richard Widmer, who has spent the pas seven years in Beijing. Widmer feels Millers Falls needs new life. Chinese artists seek creative freedom, professional development and international experience. The Millers Falls Arts Bridge is a place for artists from China, the USA and around the world to explore new social and cultural perspectives, to reflect and exchange ideas, to create new works of art, as well as to experience the culture, history and natural beauty of New England.

Through artist residency programs, community engagement and social art practice, MFAB serves to strengthen dialogue between people of different cultures and to promote understanding across diverse beliefs and traditions. By rekindling the creative spirit of this once-sacred building, and by engaging through art with the local community of Millers Falls, by creating jobs, attracting both artists and visitors, broadening horizons and increasing community pride, MFAB will also make a dynamic contribution to the economic and cultural revitalization of this beautiful village.

In a reprint by By Cori Urban | Special to The Republican , Widmer explains more about what he is doing with the Millers Falls Art Bridge.

A filmmaker working in Beijing for the past seven years hopes to resurrect a former church and transform the building into a cross-cultural bridge between China and the United States. Richard J. Widmer purchased the former St. John’s Church and rectory in the village of Millers Falls here in December to become the Millers Falls Arts Bridge.

The church will now be programmed and operated by the newly formed Millers Falls Arts Bridge, a non-profit, cross-cultural arts and education organization committed to connecting the creative energy of artists from China and throughout the world with the culture, history and natural beauty of New England and to participating in the social and economic revitalization of Millers Falls.

It will serve three functions: artists residency programs; special cultural events such as exhibitions; and performances and community events. “When I found the vacant church, I was inspired to create the Millers Falls Arts Bridge” Widmer said, calling the once-industrial village “a place where a little bit of good energy can go a long way.”

We look forward to bringing you future news about the progress in Miller Falls with this unique program between rural New England and Mainland China.

To find out more about Millers Falls Art Bridge, go to http://www.millersfallsartsbridge.org/

 

 

Posted on November 19, 2015 in Artist Residencies, Entrepreneurial Models

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