In the northern corner of Allston hides the Harvard Ed Portal. This place is an educational facility, community center and exhibition space.
This is where, Beth Plakidas, the Portal’s Arts Coordinator, is currently sharing an immersive installation.
The exhibition is visible from Western Avenue through a large wall of windows. Step inside the building, and you are greeted by a desk and conference room typical of an educational institution. The gallery space is to the right, and is currently overwhelmed with color and whimsy. A structure fills half the room. Two half-height stud-walls create an enclosure against the wall. A bright blue tarp creates a roof element that stretches well above our heads.
This structure is what my ten year old self would dreamed of being able to build in the backyard. A bright and patterned door invites you into a shiny, mylar and tinfoil lined space that is nothing sort of sacred. Three displays are on the wall. One book, a case with a box inside, and a pyramid of jars. It is clear that these three elements are representative of a loved and lost pet.
The book shows different photos of dogs, the pages are lined with fur and different nicknames for dogs. There is a small box in a pink case, this box is painted gold and lined with different shaped teeth. Next to that is a pyramid of jars with tufts of fur.
Collages of dogs spot two walls of the shrine. Mixed media assemblages of fur, felt, and craft-store paints scatter in between. The multitude of medias and colors balance a line between overwhelming and captivating. I get a strong sense of familiarity.
Plakidas takes the viewer on an exploration of different emotions. Sense of play is strong from both the artist and how the viewer is encouraged to interact in the space. Though the viewer is invited into a world of memory that cannot be brought back, the installation is tinged with tokens of loss and recollections of time-passed.
This exhibition is on view from July 2nd-August 16th at the Harvard Ed Portal’s Crossings Gallery. Hours are Monday through Friday 9am-5pm through the summer.
If you want to catch more art in the area of Lower Allston. Check out the ceramics show at Harvard’s Ceramics department, this exhibition at Zone 3, or this new pop/street art inspired hotel.