Blurred lines: ‘Almost Human’ explores differences between humans and non-humans
Williamsport Sun-Gazette | December 11, 2014
By ERICA MOTTER
On a day-to-day basis, it’s not likely that we question how “human” we truly are, and what that means in relation to everything else that’s “non-human,” even though we technically share over half our DNA with many animals, and even a quarter of it with many plants.
But many artists find themselves concerned with this question–“What defines a human being as such?”–and they invite others to consider it as well.
In the current show on display at Converge Gallery, “Almost Human,” the line that distinguishes human beings from non-humans is blurred in a collection of art pieces that examine humanity through lenses of anthropology, anatomy, science, perception and imagination.
“Almost Human” showcases a variety of media in its 14 displayed works, including a sound installation, sculptures, drawings, paintings, and a neon installation.
“The show is a nice mix of color, concept, and sensory experiences,” John Yogodzinski, assistant director at Converge Gallery, said.
“Almost Human” has been guest curated by Italian journalist Deianira Tolema, who has written extensively about art in both Europe and the United States.
Tolema, who is also the fiancée of one of the gallery owners, Casey Gleghorn, had become involved with much of the day-to-day work in the gallery since its opening. So, in light of her overseas connection and passion for art, the gallery invited her to curate a show.
The inspiration for the show’s theme took shape after Tolema interviewed sculptor Rona Pondrick, whose work revolves around anthropomorphism and hybridization.
“As a human being provided with consciousness, I have always wondered about the same subject both philosophically and artistically, so I decided to put together 14 highly selected artists whose work is focused on the same subject,” she said.
Some of the more prominent artists featured in the show are Alberto Di Fabio, Elizabeth King, whose works are in the Metropolitan Museum, and Lawrence Charles Miller, whose has works on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
Apart from selecting these artists, Tolema also chose artists whose works dealt with the subject of humanity in unique ways.
“Ted Lawson, Meryl Pataky and Keith W. Bentley are among the most interesting artists right now, and the other ones are just extremely talented,” Tolema said. “The works fit really well together because they’re all very different from each other, and still you can find analogies to unveil the multiple layers of connections.”
The exhibit first opened on November 21, to mostly positive reviews. According to Yogodzinski, many of the gallery regulars enjoyed the show, some even remarking that they thought it was the best one yet.
However, the gallery did receive some negative reactions to a piece called “Lead Tears” by Keith W. Bentley, which was displayed in the gallery’s front window.
The piece, which features lead fishing sinkers covering the face of the Virgin Mary, sparked controversy among some of the older Catholics in the area, who debated about it on Facebook and tried to contact the mayor to have the work removed from the window.
“I hope that regardless of their reaction to the work, they take back a new way to look at art and try to find the meanings behind what the artist was thinking when it was created.” Yogodzinski said. “Good art really challenges the mind, and we are trying to elevate the discussion around each piece of work we display.”
In general, Yogodzinski encourages anyone interested in art to come experience the works of “Almost Human,” and to ask their own questions about human nature.
“I’m just hoping everyone gets a chance to see this excellent show before it comes down in January,” he said.
“Almost Human” will be on display at Converge Gallery, located at 140 West Fourth St., until January 31. For more information and gallery hours, visit the website at www.convergegallery.com.