Every year, the Lord Hall gallery at the University of Maine features six exhibitions from faculty, students and invited artists. “Touch my human,” by Giles Timms, an assistant professor of art at UMaine, and “The Painter and her skeleton,” by Irene Hardwicke Olivieri, an artist based in Seal Cove, are on display in the gallery until Sept. 20.
Though the two exhibitions are very different, they both speak to the importance of transformation and the human condition. Timms’ work incorporates mixed-media work and animation and includes “surreal and local narratives, that explores the vagaries of our human condition,” said Timms.
Timms’ work features “homunculi creeps,” as he describes them, that provide commentary on all parts of life.
“My narratives are inspired by being a parent to two young daughters, the uncertainty and wonder of my childhood, and living abroad in Bulgaria. I sift through the forgotten: memories, dreams, narratives, and imagery,” Timms said. “I galvanize the abandoned into grotesque and beautiful homunculi creeps. Creeps of tension and harmony. These creeps, my work, are small, narrative threads of the terrific and terrifying absurdity of modern life.”
“Touch my human” is an installation that emphasizes these creeps and creates a story. Each piece has multiple elements that draw a viewer’s eye. The backdrop in each piece features different patterns, words and images that contrast to the creeps that are at the focus. Each piece is like a collage that provides different elements for interpretation.
In addition to being an assistant professor of art at UMaine, Timms also does creative work including animation and illustrations. He is continuing work on his creep series as well as a related animated film to submit to festivals. He is also in negotiations for an animated book trailer for a fiction book.
Hardwicke Oliveri’s exhibition is a collection of some of her newest pieces and some of her oldest. “The Painter and her skeleton” is a piece that she has been thinking about doing for a while.
“How amazing it would be if we could leap forward in time and our dead self could come talk to our living self! Our skeleton might ask questions about how we are living our life, are we doing what we really want to do? Are we loving those who need love the most? Are we making the best use of our days? … I often think about how mortality concentrates the mind and can spark us to a richer more meaningful existence,” Hardwicke Oliveri said.
Her work is paradoxically rooted in life and death. Her pieces speak to nature and often depict trees, plants, flowers and fruit. But in those paintings as well, she has elements of death and impermanence. She also uses pieces of bones from owl pellets and paints on old wood.
“I like using bones that I find in owl pellets. Owls cannot digest fur, teeth and bones so when they catch a mouse or other rodent, they swallow it whole and then later cough up a pellet before catching their next meal. I dissect them, clean the bones and sort them to make things from them. I like that from a distance the finished piece may appear to be an alluring woman but when you get up close you see she is made of tiny mouse bones. Lately, I’ve started making pieces from things I find along the shore at low tide. I like creating pieces out of things I find as if I was on a deserted island and that is all I have. I love using wild materials,” Hardwicke Oliveri said.
Both “touch my human” and “The Painter and her skeleton” will be on display in the Lord Hall Gallery and they are open and free to the public from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Timms and Hardwicke Oliveri will be speaking at a reception and gallery talk from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20. They will speak about individual pieces and their creative processes on the closing day of the exhibit.