In dark trees

David Thorpe, tipping points and parade swag, and Iran and Paris in Watertown
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  March 28, 2006

David Thorpe, Good PeopleVisionary landscapes crafted from cut paper and bits of the real world — dried flowers, for example, and leather and slate — set the stage for dramatic yet ambiguous scenarios in collages made by a young British artist whose fantastical scenes are the subject of “David Thorpe: A Meeting of Friends,” which opens at the Worcester Art Museum on April 7. Thorpe’s intimately scaled images are loosely based on representations of America’s Wild West, which he knows only at second hand. He inserts his own futuristic architectural creations into the imagined landscapes, evoking both the self-sufficiency and the isolation of the West in his mostly unpeopled vistas. His work will be exhibited amid a group of historic American landscapes he selected from the WAM collection to create a new take on our concept of the “sublime” in American landscape painting.

Meanwhile, back in the densely populated urban settings some of us call home, it’s well known that small changes can have a significant impact on individual lives. That idea is the premise of “Tipping Point: Health Narratives from the South End,” which opens at the Mills Gallery on April 7. Artist Jennifer Hall teams up with medical anthropologist and ethnographer Dr. Ellen S. Ginsburg to create seven large, interactive sculptures based on tales of individual health gathered by Dr. Ginsburg in interviews with artists living or working in the South End. The show provides a window into the complex relationships among body, health, self, and community, each sculpture telling a personal story about physical experiences, including narcolepsy and eating disorders, that resulted in major life changes. Visitors making their way through the gallery will notice that the sculptures respond to their movements.

And in the Mills’s Project Space, photographer Amber Davis Tourlentes trains her camera on the way institutions and corporate entities insinuate themselves — with the friendliest of faces — into our sexual identities in “Parade Swag, South End, Boston 2002–2006.” Photos of branded giveaways from local churches and medical centers as well as from Starbucks and IBM handed out during the annual South End Gay Pride Parade may make us wonder whether even our bodies are really our own.

Personal images from two very different journeys — the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s and Paris in 2005 — make up “Illumination in Two Movements: Photographs by Naveed Nour,” which opens at the Armenian Library & Museum of America on April 2. Nour identifies himself as speaking six languages: “English, German, Persian, Turkish, Some French and PHOTOGRAPHY.” He describes the show as “my symphony of people harmonizing with humanity and existence.”

“David Thorpe” | April 7-Aug 13 | Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St, Worcester | 508.799.4406 | “Tipping Point” and “Amber Davis Tourlentes” | April 7-May 28 | Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.426.8835 | “Illumination in Two Movements: Photographs by Naveed Nour” | April 2-May 4 | Armenian Library & Museum of America, 65 Main St, Watertown | 617.926.2562

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