Magic, calmness, peace and wonder was experienced at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Conference in Sacramento, Calif. in March. Associate Professor of Art for the School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno Rebekah Bogard was the featured solo exhibitionist at the conference. In her first in-person exhibition since the pandemic, and recently coming off sabbatical, Bogard adapted a previous exhibition titled, “Crush,” and reconceptualized it for the arts conference this spring.
“Crush was such an amazing show, but I wanted to create more of an atmosphere – more of an experience for people to walk around and experience art throughout the piece before they saw the big culmination,” Bogard said. “This full fanciful environment was magical and unexpected.”
This exhibition titled “Serendipity” included a central piece of a two-headed animal that was floating on an innertube in a pond inside a gazebo. This main piece was a metaphor for Bogard on how to live life, choose who enters her space and the feeling of needing to grow two heads.
Bogard recognized how she often gets caught up in everyday life and how everyone seems to forget to see the beauty that surrounds us.
“I create the beauty for people to escape,” Bogard said.
Her exhibition did just that – allowed those who entered to escape the noise and commotion of the busy conference inside the hotel and to slow down and experience the secret garden space she created.
Nocturnal animals frolicked around the gazebo – all painted in a monochromatic blue. Crickets and birds chirped and the gurgling of water could be heard as visitors made their way around the dimly lit artificial garden space.
“You’re struck with curiosity and mystery and wonder from the beginning and then you get rewarded,” Bogard said. The reward was to enter upon the gazebo to see what lie inside, although the two-headed animal was guarded by a locked gate. It made it all the more enticing to enter the space inside and to project your own life inside that gazebo.
Usually, it takes Bogard a week to set up an installation of this scale, but since this solo exhibition was inside a hotel and attached to the ceramics arts conference, she had two days to install and only six hours to tear-down. Once again – magic was all the more present.
This exhibition was different though not only in space, but in overall experience for Bogard. She enjoyed watching conference attendees enter the space and instantly slow down. She liked watching how members interacted with the sculptures she created.
“It was the best experience I’ve had with an exhibition,” Bogard said.
Now that this solo exhibition is finished, Bogard hopes to show Serendipity again at another venue to provide more opportunities for people to experience the magic and wonder.
She also is working on a new body of work that she said is much more romantic. Her work tends to take on the stories of her personal life. From marriage, to divorce, living single, and now marriage again, Bogard’s pieces reflect the ebb and flow of everyday life and experiences.
Feeling particularly giddy about her life right now (and the most amazing man she couldn’t talk about without smiling), Bogard’s newest body of work is sure to live up to the hype.