Apr 7, 2023
By STEVE PFARRER, Staff Writer
Burnett Gallery, Amherst — Bernice Massé Rosenthal made her mark as an inventive sculptor of assemblages, using wood, recycled materials and in some cases paper. As the Amherst artist once wrote, “Finding curious discarded pieces is the grist for my art mill and the inspiration for new creations.”
Rosenthal, who put herself through Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts while working as a nurse, died in January 2022 from complications from COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated and boosted. This month, the Burnett Gallery at Jones Library is hosting a retrospective exhibit to showcase her unique art.
The solo exhibition offers selections of her work covering a period of some 50 years. Her painted wood assemblages, especially some of her later work, were designed to be interactive: displayed in different orientations, manipulated by viewers, or set in motion by touch.
Rosenthal, born in 1938, worked at different scales, making freestanding sculptures for outdoor display, others that could be mounted on walls, as well as smaller ones that could be placed on a table or bookshelf.
Originally involved in painting and in stone sculpture, Rosenthal later trained as a paper conservator and worked in the conservation and trade of antiquarian maps, which led her in turn to design paper collage.