Abundance, an exhibition of small fanciful bronze sculptures by Claudia DeMonte that highlight our acquisitive society and create a poignant visual contrast with the concept of need, is currently being shown at the June Kelly Gallery. It will remain on view through May 15.
Paired with the DeMonte pieces is a thought-provoking installation by artists from HeARTworks, a not-for-profit art organization that helps the homeless in Jackson, Mississippi. The installation consists of tote bags hung in the shape of a house or shelter and a door filled with small paintings by the HeARTworks artists, each illustrating a simple yet dire need (so different from want, says DeMonte) that is felt by that artist.
DeMonte’s sculptures are figures of women covered with many sought-after material possessions -- shoes, handbags, luggage, phones, etc. The paintings from HeARTworks and a single word embroidered on each tote bag reflect the needs of those artists that include such basics as breakfast, shoes, a bed, a job, a coat and an apartment.
DeMonte’s initial premise was to focus on the global economic situation, but she began more and more to focus on problems here in the United States as they reminded her of her own personal experience.
“My father was homeless as a child,” she recalls, “abandoned with his sister and brother and left to fend for themselves on the streets of New York. With great inner strength, he grew up to be a kind, generous man, and a community activist.”
Over the years, DeMonte says, “I have witnessed the great disparity between want and need. Like many people I know, I want things that I really do not need, a new handbag to add to a jammed closet, for example, while other people can barely survive.” DeMonte’s awareness and generosity of concern are clearly evident in eloquence of her small sculptures and the installation that accompanies them.
DeMonte lives and works in New York City and Kent, Connecticut. She received a bachelor's degree from College of Notre Dame of Maryland in Baltimore and an MFA from Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.
DeMonte's work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally and throughout the world. The many public and private collections in which she is represented include the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Bass Museum, Miami, FL; New Orleans Museum of Art; Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC; Flint Institute of Art, MI; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; Portland Museum of Art, ME; University of Maryland, College Park; Contemporary Art Museum, Villa Rufolo, Ravello, Italy; Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, Poland, and the University of Oldenburg, Germany.