Jay Critchley at Spoke

Provincetown Artist's First Boston Show

By: - May 20, 2024


Hybrid Panel Discussion (Zoom & in-person): May 23rd 6:30pm
Please visit this link to register to attend the Panel Discussion via online/Zoom
Gallery and connected events are free and open to the public
Gallery Hours by Appointment (Please email at least two days in advance-

Spoke’s Gallery  presents Jay Critchley’s first solo exhibition in Boston. Jay is a  longtime Provincetown multidisciplinary and performance artist, writer and activist. His show at SPOKE entitled, Democracy of the Land: Patriotism, takes a deep dive into his singular, penetrating work with his historic exploration of the roots of American identity and the occupied landscape and its mythology.
Spoke, in-conjunction with the exhibition, is hosting a hybrid panel discussion (Zoom & in-person), Democracy of the Land, on May 23rd at 6:30pm. The panelists are artists Jay Critchley (Bio below), L’Merchie Frazier (Bio) James Ari Montford (Bio), and Robert Peters (Bio). The panel will be moderated by curator Kathleen Bitetti (Bio).
The artist’s project critiques poet Robert Frost’s unabashedly Colonialist poem, The Gift Outright: “The land was ours before we were the land’s.”
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a 10’ x 15’ wall-size American flag, tarred and feathered, lit with white light “stars,” referencing patriotism to embrace and nurture the Land for our mutual survival.
Tarring and feathering is a form of public humiliation used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge. It was used in feudal Europe and on the American frontier, mostly as a type of mob vengeance. It is meant to humiliate and severely criticize a person. 
“We ask, Who is being tarred and feathered – We the American people? The ecology of the planet?” states the internationally recognized artist.
“We need to listen to the Land and let the Land speak, all its disparate elements, the cacophony of our relative’s voices from the microbes to the insects to the four-legged and two legged creatures,” he adds.
With Democracy of the Land: Patriotism the artist returns to his use of an American Flag, first employed in 1989 with Old Glory Condom Corporation, a patriotic safer sex enterprise, and then in 2010 linking globalism, pandemics and environmental disasters with a flag constructed with tie-string surgical masks. The Blessed Virgin Rubber Goddess - Immaculate Protection in 1989 linked HIV with the health of the rainforest’s rubber trees that produce condoms.
The artist initially used down feathers to create a walk-in version of the White House, called The Whiteness House - tarred and feathered at the Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico in 2017. It was exhibited in Provincetown in 2019.
Drawing on his research and work about American symbolism, mythology, history, settler occupation, Native Nations and ecological concerns, the project confronts our torrid and complicated history of what it means to be an American and how we commune together to move forward. It moves beyond farm to table to Land to Land - challenging the corporate supply chain to return to the Land, uncontaminated, what’s taken from the Land.

Jay Critchley’s work has traversed the globe, showing across the US and in Argentina, Japan, England, Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Columbia.
His artist residencies include: the Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico; Fundacion Valparaiso, Mojacar, Andalucia, Spain; CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine, France; Havestworks Digital Media Arts Center, NYC; Milepost 5, Portland, OR; Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry, Ireland; and Harvard University where he also lectured.
His movie, Toilet Treatments, won an HBO Award and he gave a TEDx Talk: Portrait of the Artist as a Corporation. His 2015 survey show at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum traveled to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He has received awards from the Boston Society of Architects and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC for his environmental projects.
Jay recently was the keynote speaker at the UK Conference on Menstruation and Sustainability at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and spoke at the Nuffield Ireland Conference in Dublin, Ireland.
The Massachusetts State Legislature honored Jay as an artist and founder and director of the Provincetown Community Compact, producer of the Swim for Life, which has raised $6M for AIDS, women’s health and the community since 1988. 

SPOKE activates the transformative power of art to heal divisions, strengthen community, and drive social progress. We forge a common path of equity and civic engagement across Greater Boston through visual art, dance, poetry & spoken-word performance. Young people are essential contributors to all of our work. Creating together, we emerge with a deeper understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world we share. For more information on SPOKE:   Address: 844 Summer Street, South Boston MA 02127.