Imagination alive and well in the Sheppard Art Gallery

2/7/2007 8:00:00 AM

A daydreamer can stand in an empty room and see amazing things. An artist, like Rebekah Bogard, can do the same but show those things to others. In her first exhibit at the University of Nevada, Reno, the ceramics professor is surely showing amazing things in the Sheppard Art Gallery.

"Love and Leisure", on display until Feb. 15, resembles the landscape of a fairytale or the forest of a colorful dream. Easter-green plants look like stacked orbs and grow from the floor and creatures which can best be described as resembling common squirrels inhabit the Candyland-like foliage. Possessing glossy, Bambi-like eyes, the colorful, loving creatures are frozen in acts common to most living things such as play, sleep, eating and, of course—sex.

"I wanted to express a vivid sensation of life through an imagined world," Bogard said.

With Love and Leisure, Bogard said she hopes to fill gallery visitors with euphoric feelings.

"I've tried to create a fanciful environment," she said. "When you're in there you forget your worries. It puts you in the now."

After growing up in Casper, Wyo., it's no wonder Bogard's unique ceramic sculptures reflect animals and the outdoors.

"The environment I grew up in instilled in me an appreciation, respect and fascination for animals," she said.

However, the Wyoming exterior isn't Bogard's only inspiration.

"Art," she said, "is a collection of inspirations drawn into one."

She said her inspiration comes from a wide array of things, from video games to cartoons. In her office inside Church Fine Arts hangs a poster of the animated rock/rap band, Gorillaz, as well as novelties and clippings of various cartoons and Japanese animation. She even reaches into her childhood for inspiration.

"Like many young girls, I enjoyed Disney movies and things like hearts, butterflies and unicorns," she said. "I think that girlish iconography really shows itself in my sculptures."

Now, with a Master of the Fine Arts from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas under her belt and in the midst of a still-blooming career, it's the recognition of the innocence in childhood which gives Bogard her artful edge.

"Love and Leisure is about colors, sweetness and innocence juxtaposed with sexuality and realism," she said.

In the surrealistic world Bogard's created in Sheppard, warm colors, round shapes and compassionate-eyed, all-too-huggable, fuzzy creatures combine fantasy with the vitality of real life.

"But the more interpretations the better," she said. "It should take on a life of its own."


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