Environment & emotion duality

Courtesy of Harwood Art Center
“Fast-acting energetics (detail)”, Toni Gentilli, wild botanic pigments (Helianthus tuberosus, Morus alba, Carya illinoinensis, Ericameria nauseosa, Alcea rosea and Opuntia phaeacantha) and Rio Grande clay, 100.5 × 43 inches, 2022. (Courtesy of Harwood Art Center)

Two exhibits at the Harwood Art Center contrast science and the environment with sharp angles of emotion and relationships.

Viewers can catch these contrasting works by Toni Gentilli and Robyn A. Frank in “Bodies of Evidence” and “Relationship is an Activity” through June 2.

Gentilli was working at an archaeological dig in Arizona when she developed a chronic infection.

The fungal infection Coccidioides, known as valley fever, invaded one of his lungs, simultaneously fueling his artistic practice. She had also developed diabetes at age 28.

“I’ve lived with a chronic illness for about 35 years,” she said in a phone interview from her parked car in Los Poblanos in Los Ranchos, where she makes the company’s herbal products. “These are autoimmune diseases, but I feel like they were triggered by the environment. No one in my family has these diseases.

Gentilli gave up his archaeological career because of the infection and began a creative practice that began with photography. She had always preferred a plant-based diet, so she incorporated plants into her images. Gentilli chose an ancient technique called anthotypes, where the print develops in the sun. She began using plant materials as a photographic emulsion, crushing the plants and painting them on paper. She created her own negatives, developing a relationship between materials and content.

His creative combustion continued.

“During the pandemic, I learned to weave,” Gentilli said. “Then I started using natural pigments as dyes.”

The exploration revealed a parallel link between humans and our relationship to the environment and disease. Her current work continues this investigation using discarded plants and medical supplies.

For “A Lunar Cycle,” Gentilli combined natural blood sugar regulators such as the golden Jerusalem artichoke and mulberry leaves and berries. She embroidered the watercolor with diabetic test strips.

“This show is also very much about healing,” Gentilli said.

Bright, optimistic colors signal this recovery, with yellow representing vitality, pink symbolizing love and purple spirituality, she said.

The hand in his painting “Law of Correspondence” is an ode to his well-used two hands. She painted it with pigments derived from prickly pear and chamisa.

“I send them some love because I have to touch my fingers seven to 10 times a day,” Gentilli said. “It is also a gesture of vulnerability, prayer and reverence.”

She lined the bottom of “Fast Acting Energetics” with inserts of fast-acting insulin. She painted them with mulberry and prickly pear pigments, as well as clay from the Rio Grande.

“It turns it into a kind of healing and positive energy,” Gentilli said. “I try to understand how humans and the environment are affected by environmental degradation. »

Frank’s acrylic painting explores relationships with the bold geometry and color of modernism. She moved to Albuquerque from New York in 2019 after growing up in Tampa, Florida.

“I was in New York for 16 years and my life there took me away from my art,” she said.

“The idea is to take these emotional concepts and create a visual allegory,” she continued. “I think of things like shape and color as emotional ideas.”

Its color palette reflects the blue skies and rock formations of New Mexico.

“Each piece tries to capture those elusive moments of light and change,” she said.

Likewise, relationships change from moment to moment, she added.

With its brightly colored rectangles and squares, “Quilt 01” is reminiscent of Frank’s grandmother, who was a quilter. The blocks line up to create a new vision.

“The color scheme was inspired by some clothes my grandmother made for me,” Frank explained. “I learned a little sewing with her; I have never quilted. But making this collection made me want to go further.

Frank moved from Florida to Brooklyn, New York to study at the prestigious Pratt Institute.

“I think (art) has always been my way of working through my experience of the world,” she said.

Frank has shown his work at Zendo Coffee and Vital Spaces, as well as Harwood’s Emerging Artists Lounge.