SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — After spending a few months closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hera Gallery is now open again to the public with limited gallery hours of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays with their latest member exhibit, “Silent Presence.”
The exhibit, which began on June 20 and runs through Aug. 1, features pieces from four of Hera’s member artists, painter Molly Kaderka, photographer Viera Levitt, sculptor Elizabeth Lind and artist Roberta Richman, and all focuses around a common theme.
“These four exhibiting artists are showing work collectively focused on our human perceptions of both the natural and man-made world around us,” Hera Gallery Director Sarah Swift wrote in a press release. “Our collective transient experience on earth is actively informed by our daily interactions and our active awareness of ourselves and our impact. The exhibition’s title also touches on the bizarre season of COVID-19, which has plagued our reality and studio practices this spring with a looming presence of uncertainty.”
With COVID-19 guidelines in place, Hera had to do away with their traditional gallery opening ceremony and artist talks, instead posting all of the featured pieces to their website along with statements from the artists regarding their works, videos and virtual artist talks.
For Kaderka, who has seven pieces done in oil paint, her focus for the exhibit is on endangered plants and animals.
“As we collectively face the prospect of thousands of plant and animal species going extinct, due largely to human-induced climate change, I am more and more drawn to the question of how people experience, or refuse to experience, the natural world,” Kaerka said.
Three of her paintings in the exhibit are part of a series titled “Last of Their Kind,” with one featuring critically endangered birds, one featuring critically endangered Heritage breeds and another featuring critically endangered bears, all of which are grouped together and superimposed over a museum or library backdrop. Another portrait, “Last Northern White Rhino,” follows suit, showing a woman holding a young white rhino while having rhinoceros horns behind her and a pestle and mortar with fragments of horns in front of her to be ground up.
“My collective body of work as an artist stems from an earnest desire to create beauty and meaning. I find the most compelling way to do this is to use my artistic practice to search for and evoke for my viewers elements of the sublime,” Kaderka wrote. “To experience the sublime is to simultaneously feel and cognitively understand the serendipity and the insignificance of one’s own existence, and to submit to this experience in the face of something greater and more mysterious.”
For Levitt’s exhibit, who also serves as Gallery Director for she focuses on the intricate portions, geometric shapes and sharp angles of brutalist architecture, with five photographs featuring close ups on buildings of the style, with a special focus paid to the triangles and other shapes formed by the shadows cast by the architecture.
“My photographs depict intimate, unnoticed visual experiences, unusual structures and architectural details and forms,” Levitt wrote. “I make no distinction between modern architecture or a safari. I think that a photographer can find interesting and haunting images or surprising geometric forms anywhere.”
With 11 sculptures, Lind has the most pieces in the show, and for her exhibit, which is paired with the poem “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, a strong attention is paid to nature and the female form meant to visualize the poem.
“My work is an alternate reality, rejecting the very real dangers and sadness that surround us,” Lind wrote. “It is an organic escape to a place I know well. Each piece celebrates the vivid reality and solace of nature, and the ‘peace of wild things.’”
Most of the sculptures are made of alabaster or clay, and several feature found objects such as a conch shell, birdcage and jewelry box.
Richman, a founding member of the Hera Gallery, rounds out the exhibit with a series of 10 abstract landscapes painted with oil on paper mounted on wood.
“Landscape inspires my work,” Richman wrote. “Looking at horizons, fields, marshland, dunes and beginning new work with a particular place in mind is how I move from a white sheet of paper to the first of many stages of the original image. My affinity to natural landscape has not changed but over time my expression of it has.”
For Richman, her paintings all started off as particular landscapes before she dove into her imagination while painting.
“I am never certain when I start a painting, what it will eventually become,” Richman wrote. “Although I carry the image of landscape in my mind, art and nature are not the same. I make no effort to replicate nature in art.”
“Silent Presence” can be viewed in person at the Hera Gallery located at 10 High Street in Wakefield Wednesdays through Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. through Aug. 1 or online at Hera’s website, heragallery.org.
For more information on Hera, visit their website or call (401) 789-1488.