Consentino’s “Self Portrait with Bird” demonstrates the artist’s relationship with nature. Madelyn Smith / The Snapper
On Sept. 1, artist Cynthia Consentino discussed her new exhibit “Earth Human,” set for display at the Eckart Art Gallery until Oct. 7. Cosentino talked about how both her life experiences and past works inspired her new showcase, centering around themes relating to humanity’s interactions with nature.
“I wish I could hold these trees and birds and tell them everything would be alright,” Cosentino said, referring to her “Topsy-Turvy Mother” statue within the showcase.
Recipient of awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and The Society of Arts and Crafts, Cosentino’s sculptures and other pieces are celebrated internationally, focusing on concepts such as family relationships, gender roles, little girls in society and nature. Her earliest works were derived from witnessing the generational gaps between her siblings, mother and grandmother, leading her to question her role both as a girl in the family and what life is truly about.
“I always have to make stuff I don’t understand,” Consentino said. She elaborates that creating arts allows her to better process complex themes. “I think it’s interesting that, for a lot of artists, you grow in circles, or you go back to another idea at a different perspective.”
Consentino’s history is seen through “Earth Human,” as many of her past works such as “Wolf Girl” combine the physical features of both animals and humans similar to her new gallery works like “Blue Birds” and “King Ku-Kiang.”
Another element incorporated to her new gallery is flowers’ symbolic meaning. Consentino’s famous “Flower Girl” series displays variations of little girls removing flowers from their bodies, with the varied interpretations of the collection pieces all dealing with femininity amongst little girls.
“It’s this desire to be beautiful and desirable…but there’s also this repulsion because of this pressure [to be beautiful],” Consentino says.
The modern piece “Innocence” returns to this motif, with a flower breaching out a girl’s chest representing the common innocence of children.
Some pieces in “Earth Human” display humans and animals collaborating, as seen in “Mountains and Streams” and “Atonement.” The latter was mentioned by Consentino in her talk, as she questions what humans can do to make up for their peers’ poor treatment of nature.
Despite many of the pieces’ serious tones and themes, select works feel jovial and/or absurd for the sake of humor. For example, “Topsy-Turvy Poodle” highlights Consentino’s love of the titular breed, displaying a statue with a poodle doing a headstand.