Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Art Open House at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The MCCA Art Program began in 2005, just one year after the grand opening of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). Over the last three years, they have developed a well-rounded art program that embraces the creative talents of Massachusetts’ artists – from experienced art professionals to emerging young artists honing their craft at art organizations, high schools and colleges. Their exhibition schedule changes frequently in order to fully tap into the artistic resources available here in the Commonwealth. They are very proud to offer a rotating schedule of contemporary art exhibitions, each thoughtfully designed to engage viewers from all walks of life.

Donna Dodson: Elephant Parade will be on view from December 2011-December 2012. Through the elephant-headed female figures that emerge from ash, pine and maple, Dodson appropriates for womankind the creature that has long been an incarnation of power and wisdom. The twelve elephants in the parade also reflect the animal's family group in the wild: females travel together in herds while males live alone. Donna uses a female elephant- headed goddess figure in her work to create a dozen formal iterations of this piece that explore female figureheads, and women as symbols of power such as a female Uncle Sam/Madam President, Indira Gandhi, Madame Chiang Kai Shek and Iron Lady/Margaret Thatcher.

The Hindu elephant god Ganesh inspires her work but all of the elephants are female. Studies of African sculptures and Native American totems inform Dodson’s figures. In the process of carving, the ears are developed realistically but as the form develops, they are transformed into headdresses, helmets and hair-dos. These monolithic and serene sculptures are enhanced by the use of paint whereby color transforms wood sections into objects such as tusks, gloves and hair. Dodson is inspired by Jessica Stockholder’s interplay of color and form in her art work as well as Cynthia Moss’s field studies of African elephants.

She uses logs of osage orange from her grandfather’s farm in Illinois, and ash, pine, and maple from New England. Each piece of wood speaks to Dodson in a different voice. She sculpts with a chainsaw and a belt sander as well as chisels, rasps, and files. The wood’s surfaces are smoothed out with sandpaper, colored with paint or pigment and finished in varnish and wax. Dodson’s pieces range from one to four feet tall, and one to two feet in diameter. These iconic goddesses are crafted in the manner of fine woodworking similar to the sculptures of Brancusi, Moore, and Puryear. They are unique objects and each piece has a magical presence.

Update(s): Check out this video preview of the work. Thank you, Susan Merritt, for putting together this fabulous exhibit of art for the City of Boston to enjoy all year long! There is a featured write up of the exhibition on the Advantage Boston blog. Check out the listing for this show on the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau calendar.

Image: Prom Queen, 31" tall, poplar, paint, 2009 by Donna Dodson

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