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Susan Montgomery 

Mary Bliss Parsons:
Accused Witch of Northampton

Susan Montgomery, Detail of Nocturnal Rambles: Fly My Pretties, 2016. 
(Watercolor, 42" x 70")
Mary Bliss Parsons:
Accused Witch of Northampton

Susan Montgomery

In 17th Century New England, a witch was thought to be (usually) a woman who used her powers to affect good and evil, even making pacts with the devil. Some early Puritans found Mary Bliss Parsons, a member of one of the first families in 17th century Northampton, problematic. Indeed, Mary was a perfect blueprint for an early New England witch: a woman of middle-age and married to a successful man, a mother of 11 children most of whom reached adulthood, she was smart, savvy with her money, and known to speak her mind. Gossipers called her a witch and accused her of misdeeds toward animals and people. She was eventually brought to trial for witchcraft; for more details of this fascinating story, see http://www.historic-
In her exhibition Mary Bliss Parsons: Accused Witch of Northampton, Susan Montgomery explores the confusing and contradictory rumors and accusations against Mary Bliss Parsons. The presentation of women in history, culture and our communal memory has always been a subject for Montgomery, who has worked with such figures in her art as Pope Joan, Marie Curie, The Radium Girls, Hester Prynne, the Daughters of Saint Crispin among other female heroes.
Montgomery's selection of watercolor paintings are complemented by a sculpture installation and linocut print. Interspersed in the exhibition is an anvil from the permanent collection and copies of historical documents recording accusations by early Northampton town settlers against Mary. The most meaningful historical connection to this exhibit is the land on which the museum itself sits: this was once the Parsons family estate. Her home, long razed, was a couple hundred yards from Montgomery's exhibition.
Susan Montgomery is an artist who lives and works in Easthampton, Massachusetts and teaches studio art and Art History at Westfield State University and Mount Wachusett Community College. She has been awarded several grants including The Sustainable Arts Foundation, Blanche E. Colman, and most recently a Northampton Arts Lottery grant for this exhibition. For more information about the artist and her work visit:

1893 map showing the location of the Mary Bliss Parons homelot. (From the collection of Historic Northampton)
Opening Reception:  
Friday, July 8, 5-8:00 pm (Arts Night Out)
Public Talk with Michael Thurston: 
The Devil's Juggles: Witchcraft Accusations in 17th-Century New England
Saturday, July 30, 2016, 2:00 pm
The Contemporary Art at Historic Northampton program is supported by a generous grant from the Art Angels Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

Opening Reception
Friday, July 8th
Arts Night Out
5 to 8 pm
Exhibition Dates
July 8 - August 7, 2016
Exhibition Hours
Wednesday - Saturday
   10 am to 4 pm
   12 noon to 5 pm

The Great She-Goat: 
Mary Bliss Parsons, 2016.
(Watercolor and Mixed Media,  24" x 36")

Pomeroy Anvil.
This anvil is believed to have been granted to Medad Pomeroy (1638-1716) by the town of Northampton beginning in 1660.
(From the collection of Historic Northampton) 

Public Talk with Michael Thurston
The Devil's Juggles: Witchcraft Accusations in 17th-Century New England
Saturday, July 30, 
2 pm

Free and open to the public  

Susan Montgomery

Contemporary Art at 
Historic Northampton

A partnership of Historic Northampton, Northampton Center for the Arts and A.P.E. Gallery to exhibit the work of local artists who draw on Northampton history for theme or inspiration.
Historic Northampton
46 Bridge Street
Northampton, MA