Hera Gallery Presents
Concrete: Work from the Urban Environment
March 10- April 14th
Opening reception Saturday, July 15 6-8pm
Hera Gallery presents “Concrete: Work from the Urban Environment”, an exhibition of works by 10 Rhode Island artists, on view from March 10- April 14th. Opening reception will be held Saturday, March 10th from 6-8pm. Curated by gallery director Chelsea Heffner; the exhibition showcases work in all media including photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, performance and video.
Many of the ten artists exhibiting in “Concrete”, live and work amid the flux of an urban environment, the majority living in Providence. As old buildings are torn down and new structures go up almost overnight, many artists have been forced find alternative work/live spaces, forcing many to examine the relationship between their living environment and studio practice. Though not every artist exhibiting in “Concrete” has faced these issues of flux and displacement, each creates work that displays the unique and subtle effects of the urban experience.
Some, like acclaimed printmaker Jean Cozzens, have found a dedicated interest in how humans interact within their living environments. In her recent print series entitled, “Six Patterns for Everyday Spaces”, Cozzens creates guidelines for better urban dwelling, illuminating these concepts through carefully detailed, and beautifully crafted silkscreen prints. Cozzens writes, “I am interested in buildings because I am interested in people – the structures we inherit tell us about our past, and shape our daily lives.”
Sharing in Cozzens’ interest in the local architecture of Providence is painter Glen Abanilla. For over a decade, Abanilla has been painting houses and buildings across the city, often choosing the most derelict and abandoned properties as subjects of his paintings. Working in and intimate scale using oil paint and pastels, Abanilla develops the character of each structure with great attention to its quirks and personality. He writes, “…old houses, like old factories always make me dream. I see a house and immediately begin to ask questions and then imagine the answers…. eventually the history I create has so much detail I forget that there is a real history.”
Deeply involved with the Providence art community is performance artist and director of Firehouse 13, Anna Shapiro. Having recently moved to Providence, Shapiro found inspiration for “Sisyphus’ Boxes”, a collaborative performance and installation exploring issues of Diaspora and homelessness. Dragging a collection of modified cardboard boxes behind her as she traverses the hills and busy streets of Providence, Shapiro creates a spectacle symbolic of a meditative journey. About the record of this performance, Shapiro writes, “Integral to this body of work is the documentation of it. The elusive and intangible elements of performance art become concrete in these documents.”
Exploring very different issues are photographers Lucas Foglia and Jennifer Kodis. Both artists are recent recipients of a fellowship, and merit award (respectively) by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, for excellence in photography. Documenting the diverse peoples who share garden plots in the South Side Community Land Trust, Foglia captures uplifting images of many immigrants seeking to maintain cultural traditions of working land and growing their own food. This bright and richly colored series highlights the potential of blending rural ideals into urban cityscapes, encouraging people to rethink the possibilities of unused city spaces. Foglia’s images bring to light the importance of communal space in a society of increasingly privatized institutions and spaces.
The photo series by Jennifer Kodis, “Inhabitants” presents humans in questionably natural environments, interacting in ambiguous degrees of comfort. These stark black and white photos examine ideas of real and artificial environments, and the complications they present to human interface. Kodis creates a palpable sense of unease through the composition of the images, hinting at a tense relationship between humans and the environments they have created.
With additional work on display by painters Jonas Criscoe, Timothy Ohliger, Lauren Denitzio, photographer and landscape architect student Bryan Quinn, and sculptor Russ Smith, Concrete: Work from the Urban Environment creates a dynamic dialog on living, working, thriving and surviving in the urban environment.
These programs are presented with partial support from The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Hera Educational Foundation, and The Friends of Hera. Hera Gallery is free and open to the public and is accessible to persons with disabilities. Parking is available.