By Lindsey Davis
Jamaica Plain, MA – Shari Rubeck uses her work to reveal interpretations of the human psyche — she visualizes feelings and emotions by embodying them in a single figure against a simple background. Her new show at The Hallway Gallery, in Jamaica Plain, Mass., “Being Human,” is comprised of 14 works that focus on her fascination with animals, combining elements of rabbits and rams with the human figure as a way of assigning attributes and drawing comparisons.
One of the works on view is titled “Long Hare,” painted in 2011. It shows a woman’s figure in the middle of an empty textured background painted a green/brown color. She’s laying sideways without any real concern for gravity, in a simple black dress and with an oversized rabbit’s head instead of a human one, the long bunny ears transformed into white thread that squiggles down to the front of the canvas.
Shari also uses elements of robots in her work to create a visual connection between people and technology. Her work “Robot Swimmer” features a girl holding down her pink dress as she casually leans back and lifts a leg to reveal the laced up flippers she’s wearing as shoes. On her head sits a space helmet that looks more like a robot’s head. It hides her face, stripping her of individuality so that we can all see ourselves inside the helmet.
Rubeck uses both animals and robots in the simple scene of “Sharp Intrusion.” A similar girl in a robot helmet wears a long blue dress and leans unnaturally far to the right; A cluster of birds fly on the left, aimed at her head and pushing her over as she tips gracefully without falling.
In addition to her solo show at The Hallway Gallery, Shari is also currently exhibiting at Gallery Z in Providence, as a part of “The Square Show,” on view until April 27. Thirty artists were given three different sizes of square canvas, to be painted and sold evenly at low, pre-determined price points. Shari painted three different robot portraits titled “We Are Human” on her square canvases — simple shiny toys shown from the neck up before a patterned background.
“The figures in my work represent all of us — humans and humanness,” she said, “Some pieces are more representative of my own self and direct experiences, while others are observations from distant perspectives.”
(The opening reception for Shari Rubeck’s “Being Human” exhibition is this Saturday, April 6 from 6-9 p.m.; the show continues through April 28 at The Hallway Gallery, 66a South Street, Jamaica Plain, Mass. For more information, call (617) 818-5996. “The Square Show” continues through April 27 at Gallery Z, 259 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI; call (401) 454-8844.)