A new exhibit with connections to local history is opening at Bridgeport’s Housatonic Museum of Art on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Artist Rachel Owens’ exhibit “The Hypogean Tip,” which explores both Bridgeport’s and the larger nation’s past, will run through Saturday, March 21.

The show features sculptures rendered in various materials, including large-scale casts in broken glass from the porch of the Bridgeport home of Mary Freeman (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and works cast in coal and marble dust that invoke P.T. Barnum’s specter, as well as his adverse impact.

An opening reception with the artist will take place Feb. 6, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., in the Burt Chernow Galleries. The free, open-to-the-public event will include light refreshments.

Focusing on the relationship between what was before and what is to come, Owens’ work weaves together, both literally and figuratively, the surface and substrata of the ground to reveal its structure, material and history, according to a news release.

The porch sculptures, part of an ongoing project titledLife on the Other Side of a Cracked Glass Ceiling,” are a platform for visitors to climb and stand on while reimagining the site and the accounts it holds. This portion of the exhibit allows visitors to reimagine the radical past of the Freeman sisters and offers the potential for recreation.

Industrialization and capitalistic forces quickly swept away most of a bourgeoning community and have caused generations of both ecological and human collateral in the area. In the back gallery, a stovepipe hat becomes a smokestack, “shellscapes” cast from exoskeletons found along Long Beach and the Great Meadows Marsh, and an amphibious figure focus on the underlying causes for the decimation of Little Liberia.

The word Hypogean comes from the Greek words hypo (under) and Gaia (earth) together meaning underground. From the sea bed to coal-burning to stepping above and re-experiencing our community, the show is both a tip, as in a bit of information and a tip, as in toppling, of our expectations of what is above and what is below.

More Information

Housatonic Museum, 900 State St., Bridgeport. 203-332-5052, website.

“Imprints of porch floors, grasses, shells and leaves embedded within richly-colored cast glass document the cultural geography of Bridgeport’s South End,” Director of Housatonic Museum of Art Robbin Zella said in the release, “enticing us to learn about the people and politics of everyday life in Little Liberia.”

Programming to accompany the exhibition:

Laura Ortman will appear on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m. With varied natural and urban instrumentation, Ortman’s music is known for compositions that alternate lyrical intimacy with layered improvisation, often experimenting with four-track tapes and remixing her own audio catalogue in an evolving dialogue with herself. On Thursday, February 20, at 5:30 p.m., she will engage the scaffolded sculptures of Owens’ exhibit by playing violin as well as employing native instruments and digital effects.

On Thursday, March 5, at 5:30 p.m., Lachell Workmanwill engage with the history of housing in Bridgeport, spanning from the work of the Freeman Sisters during the mid-1800’s tying into the history of public housing in Bridgeport. Utilizing two automatic slide projectors Workman will perform a series of choreographed movements that respond to the projected images of the following housing projects, many of which have since been demolished in the city of Bridgeport: Father Panik Village, The Greene Houses, Marina Village, and P.T. Barnum Apartments. Following the performed movements she will transition to being seated on a scaffold and invite 4 selected guests to recall memories of living in these housing projects.