Sacred Heart Invites Artists to Embrace Adage

The Sacred Heart University Gallery of Contemporary Art is taking a stab at the old adage, “one person's trash will be another's treasure” with their upcoming exhibit: “Contemporary Souvenirs.” Five artists, including New Canaan's June Ahrens, will display works crafted from commonly discarded materials.

Ahrens' primary contribution to the exhibit, running from Jan. 23 to March 3, will snake across 26 feet of the gallery wall. Broken bottles, vitamin containers and steel wire come together to create "Passage," a sloping wash of mostly green across the installation space. Her other piece, "Flow," explodes an air-conditioning filter into a brilliant blue and fuzzy wall hanging.

"When you see the filters in the hardware store, the fibers are behind a mesh screen," said Ahrens. That trapped color drew her in, so she took some filters home and figured out how to tease the art out of the mundane. "Sometimes I will buy something and take it home and just look at it. I might not use it for a couple of years," Ahrens said.

Paul Villinski, Constance Old, Joseph Fucigna and Ula Einstein will join Ahrens' for the exhibit. Their works range from Villinski's transformation of discarded beer cans and old vinyl records into butterflies and birds to Old's use of plastic bags and receipts to hook rugs with a message about the permanence of consumerism's side effects.

"It's very tongue-in-cheek and wink-of-the-eye when you see these pieces," gallery curator Laura G. Einstein said.

Gallery Director Sophia Gevas said the art, while whimsical, carries a message. "We have things like these plastics floating in the ocean that just never go away," she said.

The Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sacred Heart University will hold an opening for "Contemporary Souvenirs" from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 23 followed by a panel discussion. For more information about the gallery and exhibits, call 203-365-7650.

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