Sculpture No.09_ “EFFIE” (2006)- 70”H X 48” ROUND, UP-SCALED METAL WELDED AND LEFT IN THE RAW.
the article published:
THIS STORY IS ABOUT A FRIEND OF MICHELLE’S THAT TRAGICALLY LOST
HER LIFE TO HER HUSBAND’S HAND, LEAVING HER YOUNG 3 CHILDREN
PARENTLESS AND A SMALL TOWN SHOCKED.
THE ARTIST MICHELLE VARA WAS OVERWHELMING WITH EMOTION, LEFT
WONDERING HOW THIS COULD HAPPEN, AND WHAT SHE COULD DO TO HELP
OTHERS BECOME MORE AWARE AND SENSITIVE TO THE ISSUES.
MICHELLE REMEMBERED MOST HOW DAWN BOVEY ROBERTS LOVED HER
CHILDREN UNCONDITIONALLY WITH EVERY FIBER OF HER BEING.
THAT LOVE IS WHAT PROMPTED THIS SCULPTURE.
THE SCULPTURE WAS ON TOUR IN NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, AND VERMONT
FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OVER 5 YEARS. “EFFIE” THE SCULPTURE HAS WORKED AS A
PLATFORM THROUGH WHICH MANY HAVE SHARED THEIR TRAGEDIES, GROWTH
AND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A COMMUNITY TO WORK TOGETHER THROUGH THE
PAIN. THE SCULPTURE “EFFIE” OPENED A DIALOGUE FOR RESOURCES,
SUPPORT AND AWARENESS TO MANY PEOPLE.
THE PROJECT RAISED MONIES THAT WENT TO DBR FUND FOR HER CHILDREN.
ANYONE CAN FALL PRAY AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A SERIOUS HIDDEN
PROBLEM AFFECTING ALL OF THE FAMILY UNIT, FRIENDS AND A COMMUNITY
IN OUR COUNTRY.
THIS INVOLVEMENT LEAD TO much FURTHER SCULPTURE DIALOG ABOUT THE SUBJECT IN HOPES TO SUPPORTING AWARENESS THROUGH VISUALS.
One of the many articles written in the news-
“Eeffie” is a whirlwind of rust and metal, desperately trying to corral her three children, one with a hole where her heart should be. The sculpture by Mi Chelle Vara is part of the “From Victim to Victory” project at bjsartworks in the Troy Shirt Factory on Lawrence Street in Glens Falls. The month-long project focuses on 14 artists and their experiences with domestic violence. For Vara, that experience is among the worst possible.
A friend, nicknamed Eeffie, was beaten to death with a baseball bat by her husband. “We were supposed to eat lunch that day,” Vara said. “He came in through the back door. She had three children and she stayed with this man trying to work it out for her children.”The artist said she used red in her sculpture because Eeffie’s life was based in fear and trauma. “But knowing her I didn’t know any of this,” she said. “It hit me very hard because you don’t necessarily talk about these things. To know somebody and not be interactive in the whole thing, it left me feeling like I missed out.”
Beverly Saunders is the owner of bjsartworks responsible for curating the show said “The work conveys a sense of urgency and longing. It’s been a passion to get the word out, Knowing how hard it is to say anything — it’s a silent epidemic. There is something that comes out of the bad in our lives. In situations that are less than healthy, there is some sort of learning experience to be had. There’s a growing experience, especially when you’re getting out.”
YWCA Open House will feature an Art Show – By Phil Drew September 24th, 2008
Empowerment of women has long been a cornerstone of the YWCA – so it is fitting that as the Troy-Cohoes branch celebrates its 125th anniversary with an open house and rededication tomorrow night. The festivities will include a one-day art show featuring the work of 13 different women, from as far north as Lake George but most from the immediate Capital District. “What I really love about a show of all women artists is that it’s empowering all by itself,” says Troy-Cohoes YWCA staffer Kerri Neufeld, who coordinated the exhibition in collaboration with Karen Schlesinger, of Troy’s Digital Artists’ Space. “Here is a group of women from our own area who are doing all of this beautiful work.”
Participating artists will offer works for sale and have agreed to donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the local YWCA chapter. Accompanying the exhibit, live music will be provided, particularly by local musician Mike Thomas in the gymnasium where the work will be displayed.
“I feel very lucky to have all of these women participating,” says Neufeld.
The work of sculptor Michelle Vara has received a particularly high recent public profile. Two of her pieces that utilize found metal objects have been featured in the ongoing Art in the Streets exhibition in the Downtown Albany business district. Another public installation, “The Train of Artillery,” was dedicated earlier this summer in a pocket park in Northumberland.
“I’m very passionate about recycled metals, for multiple reasons,” says the Granville-based artist, whose keeps a studio in Wilton. “They carry an air of their own, a life of their own. Plus, I’m not a fan of discarding things. And I kind of have a lot to say.” One subject to which her art is speaking loudly: domestic violence against women.
Vara recently completed a series of a dozen large-scale works on the subject, seven of which will be on display at the YMCA show. The first of the pieces, “Effie,” draws its title from the nickname of a friend who, two years ago, was beaten to death by her husband in a domestic incident in Granville, while she protected her children.
“I was pretty shocked, and so was the very small community of Granville,” Vara says. “I don’t think you ever expect a thing like that, or the outlash of emotions you experience from it. I was a person who was not aware of the magnitude of what domestic violence was until it happened so close to me. As an artist, the only way for me to deal with these things was to pull out my sketchbook and set to work.”
“When you begin this process of expressing emotion in your art, it’s because you’re overwhelmed,” she continues. “You’re overwhelmed in ways you can’t even verbalize. I was supposed to meet her for lunch that day (she died).”
The finished piece unleashed a torrent of other revelations. “My studio had an influx of people who were either domestic violence victims or people who were family members of domestic violence victims,” Vara says. “It was an education for me in a different way. People don’t have a way of responding emotionally to this.” She decided to interpret some of these buried emotions in her series of sculptures.
“What the pieces do is open a dialogue, which is very intense, to all people, all sexes, all monetary placements,” she says Vara, a New Jersey native who moved north initially to pursuer a career building log homes, eventually lost interest in it and returned instead, nearly two decades ago, to her youthful interest in art.
“I normally don’t do a single-day show, but the opportunity to participate in this was very welcome,” she says. Her works in the domestic violence series have been displayed in various settings prior to the YWCA show. “Normally this is the close of my season when I’m normally winding down and bringing my pieces back home (from exhibitions). I have 20-some commissions to do in the coming months, but this seemed a good conclusion to this chapter.”