Love & Sacrifice

August 1 – September 26 2015

Without love there is no sacrifice. Without sacrifice there is no love. Mutually dependent, the two are interchangeable—and yet evoke opposing feelings and ideas when spoken together. United under this theme of contrast/complement, the harts gallery brings together the work of six unique local artists working in diverse mediums and expressions, for its inaugural exhibit Love & Sacrifice. Evan Abramson, Lauren Booth, Tealia Ellis Ritter, Sebastian Tillinger, Elizabeth MacDonald and Peter Wooster: all live within 15 miles or less of the gallery, yet most have never exhibited in Connecticut before.

Collage artist Peter Wooster was once a designer, known for projects including the design and renovation of homes for Stephen Sondheim and James Taylor, and commercial venues including the Manhattan restaurant Orso and its sister locations in Los Angeles and London. He also made his mark as a landscape and garden designer, responsible for the Seasonal Walk for the New York Botanical Garden, and coverage of his own quarter-acre garden has appeared in nearly every garden publication in the United States. In 2006, Wooster suffered a debilitating stroke that left him without use of half his body and extremely limited speech: at present he can only express a handful of words. In the aftermath of his stroke, he sought alternative methods of creative expression. One day, he was playing with blocks of colored papers, arranging and overlapping them. This was the beginning of his collage work. He dropped all other experiments and began to channel his formidable taste and sense of design into making collages, at first using black and white images from The New Yorker and eventually including an encyclopedic range of publications and periodicals. For this exhibit, Wooster is showing eight provocative new collages never before exhibited, bright and graphic portrayals of our collective cultural consciousness that are at times comic, frightful and mesmerizing.

Clay artist Elizabeth MacDonald creates quiet, healing pieces strongly rooted in the patterns and simplicity of nature. She works in sculpture, pottery and hanging as well as free-standing installation. Contrasts abound in her work, which evokes both intimacy and vastness through the use of fragmentation. Oftentimes working with tiles smaller than the palm of your hand, her work is sometimes architectural and large in scale, other times small, textured, even woven, resembling fabric, bird bodies, marine life, nests. A former theater actress, she finds her love for performance comes through in the exhibition and installation of her work. She has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Governor's Arts Award. Her commissions include the Smilow Cancer Center in New Haven, New Milford Hospital and the Mayo Clinic Chapel in Phoenix, Arizona. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Chatham College, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

As a teenager, Lauren Booth began keeping journals. Her work today is an extension of that documentation of personal life and ideas, coupled with the deep influence of Eastern philosophies and teachings. For Love & Sacrifice, Booth took over the lower level of the harts gallery, with a 3 room installation that incorporates neon light, resin, bronze, steel and plastics. A mother of six, she oftentimes works in collaboration with her children to create the messages in her neon art. She is also the creator of The Illumination Show, a body of neon artworks whose messages were contributed by world leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Bill Clinton, Bono and Oprah Winfrey. Booth's work is featured in the Rothschild Collection at Windmill Hill and in distinguished private collections around the world.

Evan Abramson is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer born in New York City. On exhibit at the harts gallery are five images from his Bolivian World Tour series, including a 10' weatherproof print. After hitchhiking southward from the United States for one year, Abramson settled in the highlands of Bolivia's southern Andes. For nearly five years, he photographed the farmers, miners and young urban indigenous who form the majority of Bolivia's population. Moving from a wide network of rural mountain villages to the outskirts of towns and cities rapidly expanding across the barren highlands of the Andes, in Bolivian World Tour he examines the changing expressions of identity of indigenous Bolivians through their political, cultural and economic struggles with the forces of globalization. "I see the present as a moment of great sacrifice for the people of the Andes," he writes, "as local concepts of identity and belief are rapidly being challenged by an idealized image of the self loosely interpreted from the cultural excesses of the United States. One way this is reflected is in the changing role of sacrifice within indigenous life, as sacred ways of living in relation to the earth are losing ground with the newest generations." Abramson's photography and video installations have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Santa Fe, DC, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and the Netherlands.

Sebastian Tillinger is a working television and movie actor who finds painting and drawing to be the antidote to the world of Hollywood. A native of northwest Connecticut, he moved back here after twenty years in Los Angeles, to raise his young daughter. For Love & Sacrifice, Tillinger is showing five large-scale abstract oil paintings of vivid colors and patterns reminiscent of constellations, galaxies and intergalactic travel. He writes, "My paintings are expressing an idea born long before I existed.  The idea that the universe is composed of energy that moves through us.  This energy is constantly shifting, yet remains the same...The paint is liquid and fluid. The search for form within this flow is a metaphor for the ability to swim within a current. The ability to control the uncontrollable is reflected in the paint."

Photographer Tealia Ellis Ritter was born in Illinois, and now lives and works in rural Connecticut. She views photography as an exploratory process, often examining personal experience, family history and photography's layered relationship to time and memory. On display at the harts gallery are four images from her series The Live Creature and Ethereal Things, which explores the desire to be noticed and the simultaneous desire to conceal oneself. Inspired by the feeling of being on display, the images examine the emotional and physical ways in which people present themselves and their environment when they know they are going to be on view. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Magenta Foundation Top 100 US Photographers in 2014, Best of Show at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University's Exposure 2011 exhibit, the Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward award in 2009 and the Virgin M. Beall Fellowship at the University of Iowa in 2003. Her work has been published and shown in both solo and group exhibits across much of the United States.