By Logan Meyer, news staff
The Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) unveiled “Fertile Solitude,” a visual art exhibition at the Mills Gallery on Friday, Oct. 14. The exhibit features pieces by 15 different artists, both from the Boston area and around the world, that explore the rush of everyday life.
Curator Elizabeth Devlin said that “Fertile Solitude” is not a single exhibit, but rather a theme which unites multiple pieces of art.
“It’s sort of a composite of different aspects of things catalyzed by my ideas and experiences and places I’ve been,” Devlin said.
Devlin said she found the inspiration for this exhibit in no small part from her frustrations as a consumer of art. When visiting Storm King, an open-air art museum in upstate New York, Devlin hoped to have time to appreciate and connect with the works. However, she was unfortunately unable to do so due to the distraction of others interacting with technology.
“I started thinking about how society leads us to experience everything as a group,” Devlin said. “I found that I could never be alone, I could never have this experience that I wanted. There were always people trying to take selfies.”
In response, she started curating an exhibit which spoke to her concern. “Fertile Solitude” is installed as a maze, allowing viewers to take their own journey through the exhibit.
“It sort of forces the viewer to have that one-on-one encounter with the work, because of the maze,” Devlin said. “I wanted subject matter that people can apply their own background to, and so there’s kind of a lot of things which became this overarching theme of the maze,” Devlin said.
Caleb Cole, an artist included in Devlin’s exhibition, posed the question of identity with his work, which includes a representation of a childhood bedroom and the portrayal of identity through objects.
“I made this boy’s bedroom thinking about what the bedroom can represent, playing with defining who you are, what we display and what we hide,” Cole said. “What do all these things say about me, what do they say about us as people? Those were really my driving questions.”
Identity appears as a central issue throughout the installation, but it isn’t the only issue addressed in Fertile Solitude.
“I think I draw a lot from everyday experiences, eating, drinking [and] smoking,” Hao Ni, an artist whose work is featured in the exhibit, said. “The theme of being alone, I feel like there’s a sense of being alone. It’s really overwhelming but also really lovely, and that’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from.”
Ni’s art is featured separately from the main exhibit so that his pieces retain their own joint message separate from the maze. Devlin said that having multiple themes was important to the installation as a whole.
“People won’t have the same experiences or reactions, and that’s what I want,” Devlin said. “I’m not a guided tour kind of person, I like to figure it out for myself. You’re navigating the space and interacting with it in your own way, so it’s really about whatever your own individual take on it is.”
Devlin wants to keep much of the exhibition hidden, to be discovered in person by patrons.
“Fertile Solitude” will be on display at the BCA through Dec.18.
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca