SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — How will our future be transformed by current events?
That is the question posed by the Hera Gallery in their latest exhibit, “Turmoil and Transformation,” which debuted Saturday and runs through June 19 at their Wakefield gallery.
“The exhibit came together as a response from the Exhibition Committee at Hera Gallery to the turmoil of 2020,” gallery director Sonja Czekalski said. “As police brutality, race wars, climate change, unemployment and the loss of human life from COVID-19 continued into 2021, Hera wanted to create a space that looked at how we could grow from these tragic events. We asked ‘How will our future be transformed by the current chaos?’ and invited artists to respond.”
For Czekalski, the show has a very important — and timely — message.
“This show is important to me because it shows that through all this, we will prevail,” Czekalski said. “The show is a positive take on what was, and what is to come. The show has works that let the viewer mourn and reflect on these tumultuous times, yet the viewer leaves the exhibit feeling empowered to move forward. We have been stuck inside now for so long, staring out our windows, it is encouraging to see that there is hope and determination around the country that tomorrow will be better. ‘Turmoil and Transformation’ acknowledges where we have been this past year and a half, but most importantly, showcases where artists and people are determined to go.”
The show was juried by Newport Art Museum Senior Curator Francine Weiss, who has extensive experience curating pieces related to contemporary art, photography and American art.
“(Weiss) was invited to be the juror for ‘Turmoil and Transformation’ as Hera artists were excited by her curatorial work at the museum,” Czekalski said. “Hera has been impressed by her continued openness to experimental pieces from artists dealing with difficult and complex social and political issues.”
“It was an honor to jury the Hera Gallery’s ‘Turmoil and Transformation’ exhibition,” Weiss said, praising the women-founded artist collective for their work in supporting artists and ensuring diverse voices and viewpoints are both heard and seen in the local artistic community.
That spirit of diversity, Weiss said, was well-represented in the pieces featured in the exhibit — and how, despite their differences, they all share one common theme.
“It was a pleasure to see such a diverse array of submissions to this call,” Weiss said. “The entries varied in medium, subject matter, style, and process. What they all shared in common was an engagement with what’s happening in the world right now, such as the terrible and unfathomable human cost of COVID; the dire need for social justice, equality, and equity; political protest and transition; an abiding interest in nature and concern for climate change; and social distance and bonds.”
She was also intrigued by some of the similar themes that emerged away from the main topic.
“I was fascinated by repeated motifs in the entries: The prevalence of birds, the use of language and words in art, landscapes both real and imagined,” Weiss said. “Not all works explicitly referenced contemporary issues; some simply captured a mood or feeling, and still other works of art were humorous or hopeful. Perhaps this is the “transformation” part of ‘Transformation and Turmoil’: the possibilities for self-awareness and renewal.”
The show features 33 pieces from 26 artists across the country, made up of a variety of sculptures, paintings, collages, drawings, digital pieces and an artist book.
“I always find it so interesting to see works that I find so relatable and realize they are coming from places I have not even thought of in the past year,” Czekalski said. “It is interesting to see that though we are thousands of miles apart, we have all experienced a tumultuous year, and really are all in this together.”
Czekalski said she was very impressed by the pieces featured and the stories they represent.
“I think the body of work presented in this exhibit showcases the diversity of responses to the collective experiences we are all going through right now,” Czekalski said. “Each work shares a unique story in its individual mark-making, yet they are reminiscent of a more universal human experience. The works symbolize a human connection across the nation that I think we have all been missing.”
An artist talk will be held via Zoom Thursday night at 7 p.m. on their website, heragallery.org. The Hera Gallery is located at 10 High Street in Wakefield and is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
The next Hera Gallery exhibit, “If We Cannot See It,” an artist member show featuring Molly Kaderka, Susie Matthews, Chad Amos Self and Viera Levitt, will debut June 26 and run through July 24.