Christina Zwart Takes the Road Less Traveled
It’s a common sight, and one that most of us greet with a flash of revulsion or a quick aversion of the eyes. But when Christina Zwart came upon roadkill during a walk on the Cape a few summers ago, she not only stopped to inspect it — she perceived the beauty in it.
A jackrabbit lay on its side, unbloodied, possessing a look of vigor with a “really, really beautiful blue hue in its ear,” the Wayland, Mass. artist recalled. So she snapped a few photos. And from then on, it was her habit to pull over whenever a bend in the road revealed similar casualties.
She’s since amassed dozens of images — the expected squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, raccoons and snakes, as well as deer, a fox, a coyote, a cat, and even a sadly fascinating mother opossum carrying five underdeveloped babies in her pouch — that are creatively assembled in her dichotomous photo mosaic, “Rosekill.”
When viewed from a distance, the unpleasant, sometimes grotesque pictures of roadside carnage come together to create the pinnacle representation of love and beauty: a rose. The duplicitous work will be on display, along with several other of the installation artist’s unique and thought-provoking pieces, at the Boston Sculptors Gallery from April 1 through May 3.
Rebellion and irony thread throughout Zwart’s work; often with a mark of whimsy, she manipulates expectations and first impressions by presenting her audience with one thing, then literally reeling them in, step by step, to reveal another. “It’s the element of surprise, the shock, the discovery,” she said. “It’s not what it first appears to be.”
The serious and sobering study, “No Hives…No Lives,” for example, appears at paces away as a 10’ x 8’ honeycomb, a certain number of the hexagons darkened to create a skull-and-cross-bones pattern. But advance closer, and those dark spots reveal themselves to be thousands of clusters of dead bees (provided by the Worcester County Beekeeping Association).