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Print Editions Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Frequenters of the Sarah Doyle Women's Center Gallery will find themselves caved in by "Landslide," an exhibit of two- and three-dimensional images of glamorous guts by Hope Hardesty '08. Conveying vulnerability, slippage and escape, "Landslide" exposes something not conventionally for display: the gut, in the sense both of internal organs and of intuition.

The corporeal flair of "Gush" embodies this unsettling juxtaposition of the glitzy and the grotesque. With colorful organs filling and spilling out of the fireplace, "Gush" singes the border between interior and exterior, organic and ethereal.

Santa Claus has no place in Hardesty's mythos of the hearth, whose boldly unexpected contents confront viewers in a manner more resembling "The Nightmare Before Christmas" than " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas." The piece transforms the chimney into the building's large intestine. Rather than gracefully puffing out waste, it excretes a smorgasbord of materials for all to see. Hardesty said she took this methodic mess and "put some kind of makeup on it."

On the opposite wall, shiny, white sculptures — undecided about their identity as clouds or intestines — protrude from pale blue paint with red splotches. "Landslide" is a hybrid between an anatomical crosscut and a winter sky.

The exhibit's eponymous piece utilizes insulation foam, typically used for home improvement. Though "gushy" and formless during the sculpting process, it develops a delicate coral-like finish, Hardesty said. "It's kind of like this living thing."

Hardesty wrote in the exhibit's notes that her art explores how landscapes can manifest her somatic and emotional inner life, including her "identity as a woman."  She described the "feminine" ornamentation, patterns and color schemes as these elements of self-expression.

But in "Collection in the Cabinet," the gallery's display case is transparent, literally and figuratively, in exposing the muddled emotions behind womanhood's adorned exterior. Inside lie tangled worm-like tubes in glossy, glittered fabric — an awkward combination that emanates contrived surface beauty. The objects' identity and direction are ambiguous or nonexistent. Jumbled and lost, they simultaneously whisper, "What am I doing here?" and shout, "Look at me!" By drawing attention to the practice of exhibiting art, "Collection in the Cabinet" draws attention to the cultural practice of exhibiting women.

The most salient new features of the gallery are the repainted walls. Loud lime green and soft blue backgrounds highlight "Untitled" and "Landslide," respectively — an addition Hardesty said was hers. "The space was very much considered in the making of everything," Hardesty said, adding that she was interested in the psychogeography of viewer-gallery interactions.

The rest of the show includes paintings and sculptures of body parts that are also landscapes, seascapes and sky-scapes. Some are aesthetically pleasing, some are horrifying and most are both, as well as attention-commanding. Hardesty said a "gnawing, very emotional feeling" inspired the collection, whose impression is accordingly cathartic. Some of its abstract naturalistic paintings evoke a release of psychic energy akin to the rumbling, tumbling outburst of built-up earth.

While constructing "Landslide," Hardesty said she was curious where viewers would localize "the line between something that's beautiful and something that's grotesque." But her artwork illustrates that such a division need not exist.

Visitors are welcome to witness gravity at work until Nov. 27, weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.



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