Nests by Shelly Hehenberger
The ArtsCenter—As so often happens, a profound change in one's domestic lifestyle has a ripple effect in other aspects, as well. For artist Shelly Hehenberger, the adoption of her daughter a few years ago prompted her maternal nesting instincts to kick in. Now, Hehenberger has extended the concept into her art with this show of small, wall-mounted relief sculptures. The list of materials in this exhibition reads like a what's what from her multimedia palette: thread, fiber, wood scraps, small wooden frames and jewelry box drawers, leaves, netting, twine, rope, beads, hair, flowers and seeds.
The show has an enchanting presentation. The works are petite—typically just 8 inches by 10 inches—which allows the artist to display small groupings of four or five pieces at a time, further enhancing their collage and found-object aesthetic. Hehenberger also slyly allows certain veins of material, such as lace, twigs, string and fiber, to recur and intertwine throughout the work in various incarnations. Accordingly, the exuberance of color, texture and surface relief is seductive and begs close inspection. Just like their imagined occupants, the works are light, vibrant and fluttery. These sculptures ultimately prove to be not so much about their surface and form (captivating though these are) as they are about the physical spaces within them and the poignant interplay of spontaneity, fragility, nurturing and dwelling.
Nests is up through Dec. 28. Visit www.artscenterlive.org. —Dave Delcambre