BUNNI 2020, Art in a pandemic
Coastal Contemporary features new paintings by artist, curator, small business owner and single mother, Shari Weschler * Sumo Bunni.
The key action word this year was PIVOT. It is something humans do, some more fluidly than others, but certainly not typically on such a demanding open-ended level. In the unpredictable tangos on home-fronts and externally within careers, we witnessed the world run a collectively challenging parallel course in 2020. We felt for one another, lifted spirits when we could and watched the division of a nation, all while digging into our own quiet isolated realities.
Questioning truth versus illusion took hold of our consciousness. The dream-state, for those gifted with recall, experienced a deeper spiritual connection to the global masses and an unchained universe. Visceral stories playing out behind closed eyelids traded places with live theater. As habitual, normal daily functions peeled away and dissolved, the ‘fortunate ones’ were left with their baseline of creative abilities. Imagination employed as a bolstering and centering in the weakest of spots was both gift and savior. An hour or two spent in a sunlit studio bathed in music, where brushes freely plunged into wild color, allowed strange new emotions to mesh and mold ingredient into haunting or waggish figures. A guard-dog mother supporting three additional humans on her own in a pandemic was grounded and released from her mounting anxieties through painted narratives. Frenetic bodily chaos propelled each painting within an unknowingness for how the landing might unfold, topped off with a slowing down in the details. No explanations are required to interpret the illustrations; they are whatever you bring to her mirrors.
An additional mode of exploration and escapism in a pandemic arrived in the format of iphone self-portraiture. Photography was a large component of Weschler’s studies at MICA in the early 1990s. This platform was a familiar space to fall back on, giving a bigger voice to her Instagram which she manages and curates as an artform itself. A second female artist began transforming Weschler’s figural abstractions into her own dreamy interpretations and sending them back to be shared or simply kept as tokens of friendship and inspiration. This grew into a strong collaborative project across a struggling nation, stitching California to Rhode Island. The raw and manipulated photographs will show in a formal exhibition in 2021.
Also featuring guest sculptor and fellow, local business owner and jeweler extraordinaire Kevin Duris, of Duris Studios.