Exhibit portrays families

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s latest show at The Parachute Factory, 319 Peck St., “Family Business,” depicts facets of family life — from laughter to tears — in a thought-provoking manner.

The show is on display in the joint offices of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health and the Community Services Network of Greater New Haven and features the work of 18 artists, 5 of whom are from New Haven.

Upon entering the exhibition, the first thing one sees is New Haven artist Larissa Hall’s wall installation “Holiday_Letter_Draft1.doc,” which includes a printed holiday letter composed by the artist. The screaming figures depicted on the colorful installation are revealed in the letter as a family in the state of dissolution. The “Moriartys” and their “53-pound daughter” Jessica have to cope with the husband’s “ ‘non-addictive’ pot habit,” robbery and an “850-pound horse named Pegasus.” The work succeeds at being both funny and striking, making a strong impression upon entering the building.

Indeed, the show is generally notable for interlinking the more serious work of the YPRCH and the more amusing and adorable aspects of family life. “Grey Matters to Me,” a video installation by Erika Van Natta, depicts families coping with mental illness, while nearby, Paul Nash’s computer slide show shows four years’ worth of pictures of his baby son. Nash updates the work daily.

Joseph Saccio, another New Haven artist featured in the show, said that his sculptures on display have a specific family interest. The works were originally presented by the artist as gifts to his family.

“It’s an intimate small family gathering,” he said of the group of sculptures. “It’s representative of the affection and love of family life.”

Similarly, Yoon Cho’s series “Nuclear Family Project” seeks to look at family life as a blissful and hopeful experience. Her works are large photographs of a couple in different rooms in a house that is being furbished. Yellow silhouettes of a child are pasted in to create both the idea of an absence and a future presence. Somehow Cho’s work is more haunting than Saccio’s and seems to question whether the nuclear family it is depicting will actually become a reality.

Debbie Hesse, the show’s curator, said the works were selected for those “that feel marginalized to come in to the space and see the artwork and feel like they can participate, whether it’s as a viewer, an audience or as an artist.”

She said that works were grouped in themes. For example, artists who depicted dysfunctional families were placed close to one other.

“I think it’s important for works to be in dialogue with one another,” she noted.

Indeed, Van Natta’s work has been placed close to works by Kelly Sherman which depict a divorce through a careful realignment of the floor plan of a house.

Perhaps the most touching of the groupings is that of the Broell Bresnick family, which illustrates how a grandmother influenced both her daughter and granddaughter with her radical line drawings. One member of the family, Anna Broell Bresnick, creates warped pictures of birds and carts that resemble her grandmother’s 1980s drawings.

Despite the distance from campus, “Family Business” is well worth a visit, if only to see some of New Haven’s freshest artists continuing to produce an exciting and informative art experience.

“Family Business” runs through Feb. 27.

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