Kerry Sharkey Miller; EMILY, woman lying with Butterflies, 14 x 21″ 1/25 edition; Photography
By Emily J. Weitz
For the fifth year in a row, the Richard Demato Gallery will host its annual Retreat Art Show, a benefit exhibition for the East Hampton domestic violence shelter, which brings together juried work selected by a panel of collectors and gallerists. The three winners of the contest, which was held at the gallery in 2013, come together as part of “Spring Fusion,” which opens at the gallery on Saturday, April 26.
The winning artists span mediums and represent a diverse offering of work. Sylvia Hommert’s art, all of which has been created over the last four years, is abstract in nature.
“I come from a previous life as a clothing designer,” said Ms. Hommert, “so everything I did was very much figurative, about the body. This is a reaction to that, having nothing to do with the human form.”
The geometric and organic shapes that she uses are always a play of light.
“Everything I do has to do with light and the refraction of light,” she explained. “The resin, which I use as the top coat, is a super high gloss to help boost that.”
Ms. Hommert finds through the use of resin and the play of color, she can create pieces that have moods of their own, that change with the time of day.
“They interact with the viewer,” said Ms. Hommert. “I want the pieces to have a spirit or presence. You look at it on a gray day, and it’s somber. On a bright day, the light dances with you and has a lot of movement. It has to do with the interaction.”
Ms. Hommert uses layers in her work, so there’s almost a sculptural quality to it.
“There’s holographic paper embedded in each of these pieces, underneath a layer of beeswax,” she explained. “I uncover the pieces underneath by carving. You can see the depth, but then it’s sealed off to a flat surface with the resin.”
While many of her recent pieces are a play on color and bright tones, the ones selected for this show are mostly gray, and somber. Ms. Hommert also has many large-scale, multi-panel works that serve as installations, but the ones that will be on display at this show are what she calls “more approachable in terms of the home.”
Kerry Sharkey-Miller, a photographer, offers a complete contrast from Ms. Hommert’s abstract work. Her images are figurative, though infused with a sense of the mystical. The pieces selected for this show depict women in different angles of repose, with a common theme that ties them together.
“The idea of metamorphosis and transformation is present in all the works,” said Ms. Sharkey-Miller.
She uses real butterflies as props in her work to depict this symbolism.
“I used to have a Native American art gallery,” she explained, “and I’ve traveled a lot. The butterfly is often used as a metaphor, and it’s always fascinated me.”
She calls these works conceptual portraits that use the butterfly as a metaphor for a transformational journey, and she thought this idea was particularly relevant in an art show aimed at benefiting The Retreat, an East Hampton-based non-profit that offers shelter and services to victims of domestic violence.
“It was mostly the idea of metamorphosis,” Ms. Sharkey-Miller says, “and the journey a butterfly takes, through a period of darkness and solitude, to allow for significant growth and beauty.”
The images that will be on display in this show are photographed in both natural and studio lights, and in all the photographs, the subjects’ eyes are closed.
“I usually have the women pose either looking right into the lens or with their eyes closed,” she says. “When the eyes are closed, this allows the viewer to pause and engage with the work. It allows the viewer into the space of the subject.”
Mary Chiaramonte’s paintings bring a third dimension to the show. They are figurative but dream-like in nature, and she has described them as “hanging between darkness and light.” She draws much inspiration from the people around her, but always tries to find a sense of ambiguity in the realistic.
Ms. Chiaramonte is happy to be a part of this exhibition, particularly because of the cause it benefits.
“There’s nothing more that pleases me than to help contribute to this cause,” she says. “There are so many suffering at the hand of domestic violence today… more than we think. I feel honored to be a part of this and fortunate to have the opportunity to give in such a way.”
Spring Fusion will open at the Richard Demato Gallery at 90 Main Street in Sag Harbor on Saturday, April 26, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 725-1161 for more information.