Show plays with science, hybrids

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, August 11, 2016

The creators of the latest exhibition at the Suffolk Art Gallery are explore just how close humans are getting to animals, and what most of us are really thinking on the inside, in their art.

Robin and Julia Rogers, of Chesapeake, are a husband-wife team who were both doing glass art before they met. They began to work collaboratively in 2010 after 10 years of simply assisting each other’s work.

A piece of glass artwork by Robin and Julia Rogers shows a rabbit coming out of a person’s brain.

A piece of glass artwork by Robin and Julia Rogers shows a rabbit coming out of a person’s brain.

The Rogerses’ show, titled “Instinctual Insight,” is among the privileges they earned by winning last year’s annual Juried Exhibition.

Email newsletter signup

Before they began collaborating, Julia Rogers was doing a lot of humans, and Robin Rogers was doing a lot of animals, particularly rabbits.

So it makes sense that their hybridized work would contain hybrid human-animals.

“It’s a scary thing to think about science modifying humans and animals at the gene level, that’s being experimented on as we speak,” Julia Rogers said. “If we did become part animal, are we taking ourselves back in time, closer to our instinctual, natural selves?”

Though the couple does mostly glass art, items like fur, feathers, papier-mâché and other mixed media are used to enhance the animal parts of their hybrid pieces, which have names such as “Wolf Woman,” “Goat Girl” and “Koala Boy.”

“Once we started bringing these human and animal forms in our work, the pieces spoke to getting back to nature and finding the spirit animal within a person,” Julia Rogers said.

Another theme in the show is the heart. One piece features a glass heart, lit from the interior, that “beats.” The heart beats faster when someone approaches it.

“The heart pieces talk about feeling from your heart,” Julia Rogers said.

Still other pieces feature a glimpse into the mind and heart, with glass heads and faces opening to reveal what’s on the inside.

“We kind of like looking within the psyche,” Julia Rogers said.

A couple of interactive “eyes” encourage visitors to look into the glass eye to get a surprise on the inside.

The show also features a working fish tank that examines what it will be like to live in Norfolk 700 years from now.

Titled “Norfolker 2716,” the work features several live tetras swimming around a bubble-blowing human head, underscoring the artists’ belief that climate change will have Norfolk underwater in seven centuries or less.

Art League Executive Director Linda Bunch said there are many talented glass artists in this area due to the studio at Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum, which offers public demonstrations, performances, classes and workshops.

“I think we’re real lucky here in Hampton Roads,” she said. “This whole area has become quite a mecca for glass artists.”

The show will be on exhibit through Aug. 26 at the Suffolk Art Gallery, 118 Bosley Ave. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Call 925-0448 or 514-7284 for more information.