By Rose Scherlis
There is a tiny alternate universe of sculpture, film, and mixed media on display at the Somerville Museum. Small Obsessions brings together unconventional dollhouses created by twenty artists. The opening reception was held Sunday, and the exhibit will run until June 25.
Artists Susan Huszar, Donna Rhea Marder, Sharon Shea, Jeff Sais, and Joyce Audy Zarins spoke to visitors about the inspiration, technique, and meaning of their work. The event is curated by sculptor Carolyn Wirth.
Photographer Susan Huszar is among the artists whose work was featured in Small Obsessions. Her pieces include Never Alone, a sculpture of a two-headed girl seated on a stool surrounded by mirrored tiles. Huszar says of her work, “These are all freak shows to me. I am fascinated in the beauty of discards. The things that make most people uncomfortable, I find beauty and comfort in.” She says she takes most of her inspiration from outsider artists and more primitive art forms.
Huszar’s sculpture Bone Daddies contains creatures built from found skeletons of small animals. “My brother collects bottles in the country. He finds all these dead animals and gives them to me for my birthday every year. I work them into my sculptures.”
Sculptor Joyce Audrey Zarins built miniature wooden houses inspired by environmental sustainability for Small Obsessions. Her sculptures were originally intended for a two-part exhibit, half small wooden houses, and half suspended objects taken from a burnt house.
One of her houses is tilted off its base, shadowing the ground. Zarins says, “The reason for the wings is that if you like sustainability, it gives you freedom from dependence. The reason for the shadow being larger than the house itself is that sustainability enlarges your life.”
Artist Donna Rhea Marder’s work was featured as well. Her pieces include Rapunzel’s Tower, a small spire made mostly of quilted art show tickets, wire, and beeswax. She says she leaves the process visible through her work. The tower was originally made for a basket show inspired by architecture.
Marder says “The stuff that inspires me is the stuff you drew in kindergarten and read in a book. Everyone sees what they would like to see in it.”
Marder is excited to be part of Small Obsessions. She says, “It is a great, great show that has been in the works for a long time.”
Museum hours for the show are: Thursday 2–7 p.m., Friday 2-5 p.m., and Saturday 12-5 p.m. The show is free and open to the public.