‘Constructed Prisms’ capture artists’ perspectives

Posted 7/27/23

“We got what we were hoping for,” said Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez, artist, curator and professor, as they walked through the Constructed Prisms exhibit at the Warwick Center …

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‘Constructed Prisms’ capture artists’ perspectives


“We got what we were hoping for,” said Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez, artist, curator and professor, as they walked through the Constructed Prisms exhibit at the Warwick Center for the Arts space during the opening event on Thursday July 20. Though they selected the pieces on display, they had not yet seen the exhibit.

“It was such an abstract and specific description,”  Vázquez Rodríguez said. “We wanted folks to be inspired and have wild interpretations, and I think we got that.”

Howie Snieder, the other jurist for the exhibition, joined them as they lingered on each piece. As a sculptor and Executive Director of The Steel Yard– a non-profit industrial art area, he pointed out the craftsmanship in the selected pieces.

Constructed Prisms is the artistic brainchild of Sneider and Vázquez Rodríguez. Sneider recalled that when Danielle Salisbury, Executive Director of WCFA, reached out to him looking to exhibit a sculpture-dominant show, he thought it would be creatively interesting to work with his studio-mate, Vázquez Rodríguez, to put sculpture in conversation with photography.

“Anabel and I started talking about it, and we decided on this combination of the sculptures, which are real physical forms, versus photography which is like the illusion of form,” Sneider said. “They both play with light in an interesting way.”

“Sculpture meets photography,” Vázquez Rodríguez added, motioning to the exhibition space.

Salisbury said that this vision created a “very beautiful balance” and “fills the space beautifully.” “What I particularly loved about this idea was that we were going to have work on the walls and a sculpture show,” she added.

Salisbury said the exhibit features 31 local artists, and at least 30% of the artists had never shown with WFCA before. She added that some people submitted multiple pieces, likely encouraged by the waived submission fee for the first entry. She was pleasantly surprised by the multigenerational draw of talent, adding that there were “18 year olds to 80 year olds” showing their art.

“The age range is really cool,” Salisbury said. “We have a number of college kids in this show, and I don’t think you can pick them out by the quality of their work.”

4 awards presented

Nearly a hundred visitors gathered to celebrate the artists. Towards the end of the event, Salisbury presented four awards to artists featured in the exhibition. Sneider and Vázquez Rodríguez were also in the conversation to select the winners. In addition to a year-long artist membership with the WFCA, the winners were also awarded a cash prize of $50 and a family 4-pack of Bring Your Own Improv tickets.

Carol Mossa received the Excellence in Photography award for “Congruence,” a black and white photograph of a child holding an umbrella and staring into the distance.

“I love the shadows on his face,” she said. “I love all the black and white in his jersey.”

When explaining the decision, Sneider said that the piece “has the feeling of such a personal moment, but there’s something about it that becomes so universal about the experience, the expression (and) the feeling.”

Mossa has been a member with WFCA for a year, and this was her first time showing in their gallery. She added that she has been taking pictures “for years and years.” In 2014, she published a book of photographs entitled Linger Longer: Lessons of a Contemplative Life, and recently, she’s gotten into urbex photography in which she explores and captures abandoned buildings.

It was not until this past year, when she realized she turned 68 instead of 69 and had “an extra year,” that she decided to start showing her work in galleries. So far, she said her work has been accepted everywhere she’s applied.

Rylie Paul, a rising senior at MassArt majoring in Ceramics, won the Excellence in Craftsmanship award for her ceramic piece “Fungal Epergne.” She said she was inspired by the “natural systems of growth” to create what she describes as if “a mushroom decided to become a centerpiece.” She used carving, which she described as a “very meditative process.”

Praise for artists

“We loved the detail,” Vázquez Rodríguez said. “Just the amount of work and energy that we got from your piece and also we love that mirror so that we can see that hard work.”

Sneider also praised Paul’s curatorial decision to place the ceramic piece on a mirror. He said that it is difficult to convey the texture and fullness of sculpture through a photographic submission, but with the inclusion of the mirror, the jurists “considered every surface.”

Paul grew up in East Greenwich showing some of her work at the WFCA student shows. She currently teaches jewelry making at the WFCA summer camps. Paul said that this was her first show “with adults.”

“This was my first time showing with established artists,” she added. “I definitely feel really honored that I even got into this show. I’m very excited to be here.”

Sophia Koevary won the award for Excellence in Photographic Concept. Her photograph “MCI Concord, MA” is the first installment in a photography project in which she’s thinking about prisons and how they structurally integrate– or stand out – in the communities around them. Koevary is from Boston, so her first subject was the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Concord, Massachusetts.

“When you drive to it, there’s a rotary of a bunch of Dunkin’ Donuts and then there’s just a prison, and after driving past it many times, I thought there’s something really interesting about the way they sit together,” she said.

The jurists were moved by Koevary’s selection of subject matter.

“It really spoke to the concept of our exhibit,” Vázquez Rodríguez said. “It’s sculptural and also photographic but also the weight of the piece and the project you were working on, we felt it spoke to the theme and the call.”

“The image almost looks and feels like a prism the way the light is traveling through it,” Sneider added. “It’s just a really beautiful image standing alone, but I think the concept of it… the choice to turn your camera to it and capture it really highlights that we all need to be aware of the endemic prison system that exists in this country.”

Koevary said that a friend in Providence told her about the call for art, so she decided to submit. This is the first show she’s participated in at WFCA. 

Alex Tum, a sculpture student at Rhode Island Community College, won the award for Excellence in Sculpture. He had two hanging steel pieces in the show, “...With Teeth” and “...Something With Blood.” Tum said the forms are a “synthesis of everything I’ve been researching,” combining industrial design with how objects relate to the human body with his family’s history with war. His father’s side of the family immigrated from Cambodia, so he thought a lot about the Vietnam War when crafting these pieces. 

Sneider was struck by the movement of the pieces. “It needs to be swinging,” he said. “Walking around it, seeing it moving as the room filled up and people started moving the air, it became animated.”

“It must be so heavy, (but) it has a lightness that is beautiful,” Sneider added.

The Constructed Prisms exhibit closes on August 19, 2023.

prisms, artists, perspectives


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