UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Explore the World of “Plastic Heroes”

Plastic Heroes
Alik Arzoumanian
Plastic Heroes

On Thursday, December 2 Harbor Art Gallery held an opening reception for the ongoing event, “Plastic Heroes,” with an appearance by artists whose works has been and will be exhibited at the gallery until December 15.

“Plastic Heroes” is an exhibition of works by five different artists, Stephanie Milewski, Brian Hemming, Mike Hart, Alik Arzoumanian and Fish McGill, who are all Massachusetts College of Art graduates, except Mike Hart. Knowing an organizer of Harbor Gallery, Stephanie Milewski was first invited to the gallery to exhibit her work, and then later she called for other artists whom she had known through their works to have a joint exhibition. At the opening reception today, many students came by and enjoyed the inspiring artwork as well as a talk with the artists while food and music were provided.

One of the most interesting features in the works of these five artists could be seen in their choice of canvas. Alik Arzonmanian, whose depiction of clouds, trees, and houses are quite distinctive, uses a tile as his canvas. For Fish McGill, who engages a robot as his way of expression, even a map can be a canvas. McGill says, “I was looking for something different [to paint on], and found maps of downtown Chicago and Milwaukee, so I used them.”

Brian Hemming, who paints on a polished wooden board found his canvas due to the costly price-tag of a normal canvas. “I couldn’t buy a canvas, so picked up a board of wood and started painting on it,” says Hemming. Now he uses a wooden board intentionally as a part of his art. “I like the texture and lines of wood, and use it considering how it appears with my paintings,” Hemming commented. Indeed, he tends not to paint over his wooden canvas, and rather he takes the advantage of the material. Through the color of wood, for instance, many of us will have warmer feeling, and through the texture, we may see life in the work, though the focal point of his painting is a robot.

These artists’ originality can be also seen in the way they display their works at the Harbor Gallery. For instance, McGill has decorated his paintings by having white and green paper tapes hung among them. Stephanie Milewski displays some of her paintings like clothes hanging on a rope and drying up. “Then, [those paintings] will swing in the air and look like they have life in it,” Milewski explains.

Through interviews, some artists talked about their paintings. When asked why uses a robot as his motif, McGill says, “I also like haiku and those rules, and I see connections between haiku and a robot… and… I like robots a lot [smile].” Unfortunately, in this exhibition, we can’t find any, but he indeed has several paintings where he’s added his haiku. You can see some of them in “2004 Robot Haikus Calendar” at http://www.tripleply.org/fish/. McGill’s painting has been also influenced by music. “I like to listen to music too, and I sometimes just pick up words from songs and write it down [in his paintings],” commented McGill.

“When I feel good, I don’t paint,” states Brian Hemming, smiling. “My paintings represent things happened in my life like confusion, oppression.” Hemming sometimes, in addition to a robot, includes other creatures, such as bees and bird-like animal, in his paintings. Continuing from his former comments, he says, “They represent inside of myself. So, sometimes a robot is talking to them”. For more information about his work, send an e-mail to his unique address, [email protected].

Why is it entitled “Plastic Heroes”? Many of us may wonder. When asked the question, Stephanie Milewski recalled the moment when they decided on the title, and said, “All the artists got together and were thinking about it, and ‘Plastic Heroes’ came up and we all liked it.” Well, sometimes artists don’t know or don’t tell why: why “Plastic Heroes” came up; why it represents their works. So, visit the gallery, and why not find your “plastic heroes”? Harbor Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.