Taking on new shapes with art

In the Kimura Gallery upstairs in the University of Alaska Anchorage Arts Building, Lisa Hart’s ‘Eternal/Ephemeral’ exhibit takes on a life of its own. Wooden boxes and paper sculptures fill the lit-up showroom.

The showcase involves pieces that are considered assemblages, art that involves using a combination of materials to give a 3-D effect. Hart, an assistant professor at the Atlanta College of Art, was invited to UAA by the College of Arts and Science to showcase her art and teach a series of workshops.

Last Friday and Saturday, students from UAA and Anchorage high schools participated in designing book covers that were outside the traditional. The students made art that meshed text with a number of other materials.

‘The workshops were designed to show students that the typical structure of a book — text inside of a fancy cover — can be manipulated where the artist decides the form and composition,’ Hart said.

Hart’s exhibit demonstrates that anything can display meaning with the help of text. All of her pieces use words, from art made with animal bones to pieces of broken eggshell. The artist also uses wood crates and boxes that open up and can be moved around to show visual imagery mixing with language and meaning.

Hart points out that she has a passion for interpreting human shapes, such as Greek female figures, and ancient languages, such as hieroglyphics. She incorporates these ancient symbols and meanings into her work.

‘I try to show the basic things of life, experiences that are common to all people, no matter where in history they live, from early times to present day,’ Hart said.

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One piece titled ‘Essence’ uses fossils and gold paper to interpret Hart’s vision while another, ‘Transformation,’ uses wishbones, wood, thread, graphite and ink in its depiction.

Some art in the exhibit was created by other artists, such as the piece ‘Hair’ by Elizabeth Christianna Stoney. In this piece, hair from a generation of women, from 8 months old to 75 years old, is used with teeth and other significant artifacts to show the evolution of the women through the years.

‘I incorporate a number of found natural objects into the assemblages,’ Hart said. ‘The objects are slightly altered from their natural states and then usually cut, stitched or crushed.’

Hart said her greatest art influences are Joseph Cornell, an early 1900s Surrealist who also made ‘box’ art, and Kiki Smith, a German/American feminist artist.

Hart’s work was noticed by art professor Sean Licka during a Foundations in Art Theory and Education conference earlier this year. Hart said she is glad to be able to display her assemblages at UAA and looks forward to seeing how the students react to her pieces.

Lisa Hart’s ‘Eternal/Ephemeral’ showcase will be on display at the Kimura Gallery until Dec. 1. For more information, call Kat Tomka in the Arts Department at 786-1738.