SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — When artists Sonja Czekalski, Abigail Wamboldt and Barbara Crane found out they would be displaying their work in a joint exhibit at Hera Gallery, they weren’t immediately sure what to name their show.
The show had no predetermined theme, and the artists’ works don’t directly relate to one another – Czekalski’s pieces are centered around stories and memories from her life, while Wamboldt’s art explores female sexuality and Crane’s focuses on the experience of quarantine.
But the artists eventually determined that all of their works fit under the title “Exposed,” so that’s what they named their show.
“The three exhibiting artists decided on the title ‘Exposed’ as it relates to the themes of feminism, quarantine, and raw emotion,” Czekalski, who is the gallery’s director, said. “We felt the general one-word title touched upon the more specific themes in each exhibiting artist’s works.”
Now, “Exposed” is set to open Saturday and run through Dec. 18 at Hera Gallery, which is located at 10 High St., Wakefield.
Czekalski called the exhibition “intimate yet powerful,” and said each artists’ work invites viewers into a personal space.
“The artists expose their personal stories, sacred spaces, women experiences, and the impact of quarantine,” Czekalski said.
Wamboldt is displaying roughly seven pieces in the show. She said most of them are paintings, mixed-media pieces or installation-based works, and all relate to the themes she typically explores, which are centered around female sexuality in western culture.
For example, one of the pieces she will display is a diptych — two separate paintings that together form one piece of art. It’s titled “Your Tongue Against My Tongue, My Heart Against Your Heart, Me Against You,” and explores both the positives and negatives that could come from those three lines, she said.
“I tend to focus on issues that surround the development of sexual self, sexuality in western culture, specifically as it applies to women,” Wamboldt said. “I’m also gay, so I think that tends to have a part in my exploration. Any imagery I create is very female-centered, I’ll say.”
To create her works, Wamboldt said she also relies on “the memory of a sensation” and/or visuals that she conjures up in her mind and imagination.
Czekalski, too, relied partially on memories when creating her pieces. Her art on display is part of her MFA thesis work, she said. Her thesis is titled “Viscera: A Body of Work” and is centered around specific stories from her life and the lives of the people (and nature) around her.
“The pieces expose repressed stories and memories from myself, my matriarchal lineage and mother nature,” Czekalski said. “Each piece is made from my grandmother’s quilt scraps, my old bedsheets, seaweed and other organic materials, handmade paper, and steel wire.”
Each of Czekalski’s pieces are inspired by a story or event shared with her through her ongoing community project titled “#whatwomenwear,” she said.
Through the project, Czekalski invites anyone who has ever identified as female to write her letters – either expressing whatever is flowing through their minds at the moment or responding to the prompt “What do you carry/wear with you everyday as a woman?”
Czekalski will discuss #whatwomenwear during the closing reception of “Exposed” on Dec. 18, as the event will begin with a community quilting event as part of the project.
The quilting will take place from 3 to 4 p.m., and then Czekalski will be joined by Wamboldt and Crane for “Artists Talks,” in which all three artists will discuss their works and answer questions from the public until around 6 p.m.
During the Artists Talks, Wamboldt may discuss her inspiration for her work — especially because she described her pieces as “fairly abstract” and said their underlying themes may not necessarily be obvious to the viewer.
But that’s okay, Wamboldt said — though she hopes viewers will connect to elements of her art, she said they may not understand exactly how they relate to their titles.
“I think words associated with imagery can be helpful for the viewer, to sort of get some of what the artist’s thinking,” Wamboldt said. “But I don’t know that it’s really important that the viewer takes away those specific ideas. It’s just that that’s the place from which the ideas were created.”
“Exposed” can be viewed at Hera Gallery beginning Saturday, Nov. 20 during the gallery’s operating hours (Wednesday to Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).