Art exhibit explores aspects of horror

Unsettling, disturbing and horrific are usually not flattering ways to describe art. But to the unconventional artists who are showcasing their work at the SPACE gallery’s “The Art of Horror,” these are among the highest of compliments. The show contains 113 pieces and features 75 artists, making this one of the largest shows of its kind in New England. This is the seventh incarnation of the show, and it’s been growing each year, welcoming artists outside of Vermont and receiving many submissions. Although the pieces are all connected by their eerie vibes, there is a wide scope of subject matter and media types. The artists want viewers to find the art disturbing initially, but to eventually be drawn to it and see its beauty. “I want them to feel a push and pull and sit with that a bit,” said Beth Robinson, artist and curator. For some students, the show strikes a perfect balance between the grotesque and beautiful. “It was terrifying and left me in awe in terms of the creativity,” first-year Chris Kruglik said. Other students felt the art allowed their imaginations to wander. “Some pieces made me think of weird things like how my brothers used to rip the heads off my Barbies,” first-year Caroline Sheehan said. A common theme is taking conventional, harmless objects and recreating them in an unorthodox way. Artist Quinn Dray draws pastoral Vermont landscapes like covered bridges and silos, twisting them into surreal dreamscapes. “If it is capable of fomenting stories in people’s minds, and makes people feel a sense of beauty, I feel like it succeeds,” Dray said. Other artists work with fiber materials, a medium associated with comfort and domesticity, to create macramés of knitted skulls or quilts featuring menacing silhouettes. Robinson makes strange dolls, symbols of innocence and youth and shows their hidden dark side. Artists agreed that they don’t necessarily tailor their art to fit the genre, it just occurs naturally. “I feel like I don’t have a choice for a lot of it,” said artist Yasua Hill, who creates pieces that question religious beliefs in a haunting way. “As opposed to going out and painting our surroundings, we’re painting what we see in our internal worlds,” Robinson said. “It’s not just a goth kid thing, which is cool because we all have a dark side,” Robinson said. “People express that no matter what age group [they are].”