Finding art in the oil

Emergency Benefit Dept.
By GREG COOK  |  July 14, 2010

OIL ON CANVAS? Heide Hatry's dead animals are real, but her aim is true: "I feel like I'm honoring them by using them."

Heide Hatry might not be the first person you'd think of to come out swinging in favor of all the pelicans and turtles screwed by British Petroleum's ongoing sliming of the Gulf of Mexico, seeing as her last Boston show included a woman's corpse sculpted from pig skin. And when a 2008 show she curated included another artist's sculpture of a baby made from meat, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complained: "Unless you're Hannibal Lecter, there's nothing 'artistic' or 'joyful' about meat."

But Hatry insists, "I'm extremely upset by the oil spill, about the irresponsibility of these people. I just can't believe in a situation like that they could be so uncareful. So I'm thinking every day about it."

The result is an "emergency benefit" auction of her art at Pierre Menard Gallery, 10 Arrow Street, in Cambridge on July 22. (The show opened on July 13.) Proceeds go to the Audubon Action Center's Gulf wildlife-rescue efforts.

"They're mainly black paintings . . . and many of them include [actual] animals, animals which are caught in the oil and are struggling and are dead," says Hatry. "One sculpture is a kind of fountain. It's in a bowl-like thing on a pole, which you could put in your apartment somewhere. It's filled with tar and there are animals on top. It's completely black and they're sinking into the tar. . . . They are actually fetal pigs, but they don't look like fetal pigs."

Hatry says she gets her animal parts from road kill, pet crematories, and so on. "These animals I use, they died out of sad reasons. They were trying to cross the street or whatever and I make their death not worthless. . . . I feel like I'm honoring them by using them. I love animals and I feel like I'm doing something nice."

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