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These woodcut print and mixed media figures titled “Maccabees” by Linda Behar are included in the “RAW: Reassessment and Wonder” exhibit at the Jamestown Arts Center. The new exhibit, which is on display through May 7, features 11 artists and explores the concept of ‘changing course’ in life.

JAMESTOWN, R.I. — Though the word “COVID” itself doesn’t appear anywhere in the Jamestown Arts Center’s description of its current show, the pandemic and its ramifications hang heavily over the work displayed in it.

Titled “RAW: Reassessment and Wonder,” the exhibition explores the concept of changing course — whether out of choice or by necessity — and juror Danielle Ogden said she was impressed by the number of submissions that directly responded to that theme.

“Especially over the last two and a half years, ‘reassessment’ has been something that we’ve all encountered in various ways,” Ogden said. “It requires a reflection of the past, a new perspective on the present, it requires us to shift forward. And the artists in the show, the 11 artists that we’ve selected, so beautifully weaved together this concept in ways that I never imagined.”

Ogden chose the group of artists based on their submissions to a call for entry, then worked with each one to compile their body of work for the show. The result is an exhibition that she said weaves a complete story, in addition to the separate stories told by each individual artist.

And though the exhibit deals with serious subject matter — like illness, trauma and resilience — it does so in a way that’s uplifting and full of hope, its artists say.

To explore those concepts, the artists used a wide range of mediums: Ogden said the show features works made out of metal, dried plants, aluminum, glass, plaster cast and more.

The work photographer ML Kirchner is exhibiting includes a picture of a boy holding his knee, which has a big cut on it. Kirchner titled the photo “The Phoenix, Frederick,” and she said it’s a visual metaphor of the bumps and bruises everyone faced during the pandemic, and of humans’ ability to rise in spite of those setbacks.

“Too often, people think that life is supposed to be this smooth sail, but in fact, you know, we all suffer setbacks of many different types,” Kirchner said. “And it’s really normal, and we all have the strength to bounce back.”

Kirchner is also exhibiting a series called “Inside,” which includes a photo of a man with a tattoo that reads “be the broken or the breaker” and a photo of a woman with a tattoo that reads “mercy.”

Through the two photos, Kirchner said she juxtaposed external aggression versus internal power.

“The ‘reassessment’ component is reassessing what kind of power is the better type of power,” Kirchner said. “So you have the juxtaposition between the very, like, traditionally aggressive, war, ‘strike first, be the broken or the breaker,’ versus the power of the feminine — or more traditionally feminine — of mercy, of internal well-being, and contentment with oneself.”

Similarly, artist Linda Behar explored the theme of “reassessment” by creating works she hopes will lead to a reassessment of traditional gender stereotypes.

Behar created a string of paper dolls that she titled “Maccabees,” named after the Jewish soldiers who successfully rebelled against the Seleucid Empire. In referencing the Maccabees, Behar said she aimed to depict a group of women campaigning for equality through the analogy of an underdog fighting a stronger force.

Behar said she’s honored to be exhibiting in “RAW: Reassessment and Wonder,” and said she likes that the works in it are very personal to the artists who created them.

“Everything is personal for us. Everything is about our own experience,” she said. “Everything is about, in a way, looking for something good, looking for something, to the future. That is something that, I see it in the work that everybody is presenting.”

For artist Dena Haden, that personal touch comes from her experience creating the pieces themselves, which she did as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“I had created these works a little before COVID but then throughout COVID, so they became a little bit more intimate and fragile,” Haden said. “It was really like a very meditative process when I created those. It really grounded me, I would say, throughout COVID.”

Haden is displaying seven works in the show, and to make them, she used kombucha culture, metal, plants, other flowers and more. The pieces speak to the fragility of being alive and being human, Haden said — one of the many themes Ogden said exhibit attendees can expect to encounter.

“It’s a show that tackles very challenging issues of our time,” Ogden said, “but it does so with a reminder of joy and resilience and evolution and healing that I think is a really beautiful component.”

“RAW: Reassessment and Wonder” opened at the Jamestown Arts Center on March 18, and it will remain on display through May 7.

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