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Amy Bennett | The Bruce Museum

Enticing viewers to take a closer look, this exhibition of miniatures, models and dioramas explores interior and exterior architecture in a range of scales. Some works contemplate the structure and its place in history as a monument to architectural creativity, others pay homage to the history of an urban environment, yet others depict fanciful, surreal places that could only exist in miniature.

Peopled or not, the mood or sensation evoked by the sculptures encourages the observer to suspend their perception of reality and to invent their own narrative. In an age of virtual reality and digital manipulation of photographs and videos, these mixed media sculptures fascinate because of the juxtaposition of size and subject and elicit amazement at the precision of the workmanship. The artists assembled in this exhibition explore memories–whether of locations or events–and metaphors for life experience.

Working with themes such as time, isolation, and transition, Amy Bennett creates miniature 3D models which allow her complete control over lighting, composition, and vantage point to achieve a certain dramatic effect in her ultimate creation – the painting.

Marnie Bettridge uses natural materials, like ceramics, and recycles found objects. While her work is rooted in her architectural background, the exhibited work expresses community isolation and disconnectedness.

While her work appears to be that of a self-taught artist, Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015) was academically trained at the Art Students League—after she earned two masters degrees in the sciences from Columbia University. Her rudimentary shack sculptures are assemblages of wood scraps or foam core, sometimes cheerfully painted. They do not document actual homes, but rather they celebrate the architectural vernacular of the rural southern communities where she grew up and honor the dignity and creativity of the inhabitants.

Dieter Cöllen has revived the lost art of cork models, once popular in the eighteenth century. After extensive research and in consultation with archaeologists and architectural historians, the German artist recreates historic buildings out of the delicate material with exacting detail.

The work of Thomas Doyle depicts intricate worlds frozen in the aftermath of transformational experiences juxtaposed against quiet mundane moments.

Richard Haas’s dioramic boxes from the 1960s deal with space and time, architecture and art, memory and reality; and utilize skills such as perspective and collage to create the scene.

Looking for a way to add magic to her balanced and simple concepts, Dutch artist Rosa de Jong mounted her tiny floating islands inside glass tubes as if to preserve and protect the little specimens.

The collaborative team of Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz encapsulate moments in snow globes which not only isolate the characters and situations from the viewer, but also distort the scene.

Frank Poor returns to his roots in the South to photograph buildings and their surrounding landscapes, capturing the essence of abandoned structures. The photos are used to create the sculpture that expresses his feelings about the losses in memory and in place that have happened over time.

Inspired by a life-long fascination with stone buildings, and drawing on skills learned as an architectural stone carver, British artist Matthew Simmonds’s work takes stone structures as a central theme.

Tracey Snelling is curious to know the stories of the people who dwell within the buildings she sees in her daily life. Calling upon voyeurism, film noir, and architecture, her sculpture, imbedded with video and/or sound media, is an impression of the place and the people associated with it.

Alan Wolfson creates realistic-looking sculptures of urban environments with complex interior views and lighting effects. Scenarios are played out through the use of inanimate objects in the scene—the garbage, graffiti, or food on the table—to give the work a storyline for the viewer to interpret.

A miniatures show has been a biennial Bruce Museum tradition for over thirty-five years—come take a peek.

This exhibition is supported by the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund and the Connecticut Office of the Arts and a Committee of Honor chaired by Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Gale and Bob Lawrence and Kathleen L. Metinko and Jan Rogers Kniffen.

Downsized Programs and Events

Thursday, November 8, 6:00 – 8:00 pm - Moderated panel discussion with artists whose work is featured in Downsized, including Amy Bennett, Thomas Doyle, Mohamad Hafez, and Frank Poor.  The moderator will be Camilla Cook, artist consultant. A reception begins at 6:00 pm; the discussion takes place at 6:30 pm and will be followed by a Q&A session.

Reservations are required here; Museum members and students with ID free; nonmembers, $15.

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