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What Surrounds

Ely Center of Contemporary Art

51 Trumbull St, New Haven, CT

October 13th - November 10th, 2019

Opening Reception Sunday Oct 13th, 1-3pm

Closing Reception Sunday November 10th, 1-4pm

What is environment? It is wild and cultivated, imaginary and concrete, volatile and protected. It is simply: what surrounds. What Surrounds is the assembled works of six female contemporary Art Shape Mammoth artists. Through painting, found-object sculpture, photography, and printmaking, they explore the multi-faceted concept of our Environment and the many ways we experience its influence on our lives. Curated by Heather Fortin Rubald.

Featuring Artists Rita Bard, Wendy Copp, Aimee Hertog, Maureen O’Leary, Fay Stanford, and Julie Ward.


What Surrounds is supported by a grant from the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation


RITA BARD - Santa Fe, NM

In my work I use ambiguity as a way to reframe the relationship to what we see and what it means. Growing up in a German/American family, that was poor in resources but rich in exposure to art and culture, I developed an affinity for a wild mix of visual influences. I soon learned that things are not always what they seem to be. Castles in Florida’s Disneyland were also like the “real” castles on the Rhine River. Lines made of feathers and the background of a colorful children’s cereal box are as intriguing to me as images rendered in oils or acrylics. To fully express my particular vision I combine traditional media and techniques with a plethora of lowbrow media and techniques, including readymade objects. My use of a large variety of visual and material sources is a language of discovery. Ideas are developed from memory and reality and are a way for me to frame our and ponder our particular time history.

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WENDY COPP - Burlington, VT

At the center of my artistic explorations are questions about Time and the ephemeral nature of existence, usually rendered with humor and a touch of the theatrical.

Dwelling in the northeast, it is impossible to be unaffected by the cycle of the seasons. The arc of life happens before our eyes, as vegetation hurtles out of the ground, puts forth flowers and seeds, changes colors, and falls away again. My current work is created using natural materials- leaves, bark, grasses- at various stages in their development. Viewed as a medium for the making of art, these materials are perfect metaphors for Time, as well as containers for endless layers of meaning. They are right outside my door, and collecting them in my locale connects me to my spot on earth.

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With an emphasis on female identity, my work challenges the myth of domestic bliss. Embracing diverse media, my work includes sculpture, installation, collage and photography.

Found objects are integral to my work - discarded clothing, kitchenware, dead flowers, and broken glass. Some of these materials are transformed, others left in their raw state, forming grotesque female figures. Distended, entangled, sometimes literally left hanging, these pieces reflect the struggle women face in constructing and guarding their identities.



Maureen O'Leary's work examines the ordinariness and the oddities of how we assemble and disassemble the things and beings around us.  She is interested in scrutinizing reality for its humor, awkwardness, and charm, and exploring how wild things are constrained. Maureen O’Leary is a painter and photographer who makes work about nature, ordinariness, daydream and the idiosyncratic way people create their surroundings.


FAY STANFORD - Narberth, Pennsylvania

It’s hard to be a grownup and that’s what my work is about. I tell stories using my own grown up life as the central narrative. Surely I’m not the only one who has bailed out teenagers arrested for underage drinking. Not the only one to have gone through cancer treatment, or hung laundry out on a sunny day, or watched her parents age and die, or rescued an orphaned baby squirrel. These are just some of the compelling, communal adventures which elevate the commonplace to the extraordinary because they’re recognizably ours - all of ours.


JULIE WARD - Tamarac, Florida

My work embraces the shift from the physically laborious raw materiality of an iron sculptor to the contemporary technologies of the cool blue screen. In addition to material shifts, I risk exploring collaborative making by inclusion of a variety of art forms and artists, such as musicians, to trace experience beyond the visual. Conceptually, my work folds in the remnants of vanishing industrial practices. The fading past and rapidly evolving present occupy the striated spaces of history giving us glimpses of the spaces between parallel worlds: between past and present, between old and new, between traditional and contemporary, between the material and the ephemeral.