Eclectic and edgy, the exhibition illustrates Hera's strengths as one of the most consistently provocative arts collectives in Rhode Island. Among the most powerful works on display are slightly disturbing and surreal but strangely compelling pieces by Claudia Flynn and Hera Gallery Director Islay Taylor.
Flynn's "Danseur Noble," in which she combines a piece of driftwood with the plastic head of a doll, is a striking coupling of found objects - one a gift of nature, the other a thrown-away toy that resonates with lost innocence and the ravages of time. The forms work together to create an expressive, emotive whole. Every viewer may see something different in the doll's expression, but a certain toughness and stoicism - and, yes, nobility - come through, a sense of surviving despite hardships, suggested by the full extension of the driftwood's four limbs.
Equally creepy and captivating are Taylor's pieces of jewelry-like brooches titled "Biopsy," referencing samples of living tissues cut from the body for the purpose of diagnoses. Made from plastic, glass, retro-glo thread, enamel, copper and surgical steel, the brooches stick to a wall like large barnacles and are jarringly depicted in a photograph affixed to a woman's body, the white forms repeated on a white shirt in a scene that both disturbs and fascinates.
Using found or reclaimed objects, artist Troy West creates an eloquent plea from nature that alludes to manmade environmental disasters like the BP oil spill. The piece, "Apocalypse," made from wood and copper, combines text and an abstracted shore bird in a simple construction that serves as a poetic call to arms in the fight against societal indifference.
Intriguing contributions from other Hera artists - including Linda Denosky-Smart, Cynthia Farnell, Michael Yefko, Elizabeth Lind, Carl Dimitri, Roberta Richman, Jeannette Jacobs, Jill McLaughlin, Myron Rubenstein, Barbara Pagh, Alexandra Broches, John Kotula and Susan Hayward - make Hera's Providence experiment worth the detour if you find yourself anywhere near the Big Blue Bug in the next couple of days.
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