Consenses: The Grand Finale (or Beginning)

Consenses Founder Sally Taylor in her gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. —Sam Moore

The lifespan of Sally Taylor’s Consenses exhibition in its Vineyard Haven space is coming to an end, but the project is far from over.

“Since the start, I’ve thought of Consenses as this giant beast,” Ms. Taylor said Tuesday in an interview with The Times. “It has complete knowledge of where it wants to go and how it wants to work, and my only job is to hold on with loose reins and make sure it doesn’t fall off a cliff.”

Consenses is an art exhibition that awakens all five senses, connecting the visual, literary, and performing arts with the tastes and aromas they evoke. With the help of 150 artists, the numerous “interpretive chains” on display throughout the gallery capture the beauty of perspective. The chains begin with an artist’s painting. Then, a musician has the freedom to compose a song. Based on that song, a performer choreographs a dance. From that dance, a perfumer creates a scent. Then, a writer writes literature, and so forth. Consenses is a celebration of the arts in all their forms and a reminder that the world should be seen through more than one lens.

The project began at the Grange Hall in 2014 and found its home in a space above Midnight Farm in Vineyard Haven, where it has been stationed for the past two years. The exhibition must close due to contracts with artists, but not before one final event. The gallery officially closes on Sunday, August 21, but will reopen on Wednesday, August 24, for a live and silent auction. This is a chance for bidders to take home their own chains of creative expression.  

“We’ve put together these little packages for the auction, so each piece doesn’t miss its brothers and sisters. It actually comes with all the aspects of the chain, so it can live on in its entirety in someone else’s home,” Ms. Taylor said. “I have to think of it less as a disassembling and more like they’re going off to start their own lives.”

This auction is especially exciting for Ms. Taylor because the profits will help segway the project into its next few phases. First, Ms. Taylor will continue working with schools and universities.

“If the school is really focused on courage or growth, we’ll take that concept and give it to the musicians in the eighth grade to translate into a song. Then the song will go to the painters in seventh grade to create a picture. Then we’ll give it to the dancers in fourth grade. They’ll each be interpreting each other’s work in a way that creates a real unity within schools, while allowing kids to create without fear of being judged,” Ms. Taylor said.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council also encouraged Ms. Taylor to take Consenses to a global scale targeting youth.

“The idea is to have an ambassador in each of the six continents initiating youth painters, musicians, poets, dancers, and perfumers in one area to be inspired by and interpret one another’s work. Once each continent has completed their own installation, we’ll bring it back to the States to show as a collection,” Ms. Taylor said. Her hope is to unify the youth of the world and give everyone an equal say in defining reality.

In 2019, Consenses will take on another shape at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, where it will be displayed in a similar style as the Vineyard Haven collection, but with different artists.

“I think there are two things that people are most afraid of,” Ms. Taylor said. “One is not being seen or heard, and the other is being seen or heard and getting judged for it. My goal is to give people the opportunity to be seen and heard and take out any space for judgement.”

Even as Consenses in Vineyard Haven comes to a physical close, the idea behind Ms. Taylor’s project is really just gaining speed.

“The beast wants to run fast, and I’m along for the ride,” she said.

For more information about Consenses, visit To purchase tickets for Wednesday night’s auction, visit On or off-Island bidders are welcome to participate.