Review of Sonya Menges' Art Gallery

Review of Sonya Menges’ Art Gallery

Sonya Menges’ recent work is up for viewing at the Hill House, which has graciously turned itself into a gallery to host her show.  You’ve probably heard Sonya’s name floating around church recently, with a display at St. Gabriel’s for Good Friday and Easter and the Hill House show.  A lot of Sonya’s work is there, with some of the pieces from her Lenten reflections series on display as well as other creations from the past few years.  The material ranges from reflections on holy days to tree houses and waterfalls.  One piece might be an installation, another a mixed media assemblage, yet another a charcoal drawing, and another a more traditional paint-and-canvas work.  It’s a show that incorporates weight and whimsy, solemnity and maybe just a little silliness.

So yes.  It can be a lot to take in.

In reality there are at least three shows on display there, by my count.  There are a number of tree limbs and twigs assembled in the recesses of Hill House, with small platforms serving as imaginary tree forts.  Tiny pieces of fabric crafted into flags and sewn together in a string connect the forts from room to room.  Her reflections on Lent are also presented, arranged quite thoughtfully throughout Hill House, layering your physical progression through the series with the artistic and spiritual progression suggested by the sequence of images.  And then there are pieces that represent some of Sonya’s consistent work with family memories, particularly memories associated with visits to Niagara falls.

I’m a little apprehensive to say more than that about the show in its various forms.  One of the difficulties about reading art-writing is that the writing can rely on jargon or that the writing becomes more about art-writing than about art.

The real point here is that I think you should make plans to visit Hill House soon and see Sonya’s work.

The breadth of her work means that however interested in art you might be, there’s something there for you to appreciate and admire.  One thought I had as I left the show was “Wow, Sonya can really draw a tree.”  There’s a technical mastery in her work that’s on display, but in a subtle way.  As you study her work, the technique is there without the self-aggrandizement and self-suggestion of a virtuoso.  If abstract work is up your alley, Sonya’s tree house installations and her reflections on Lent will capture your attention.  Some pieces are suggestive of stained glass windows or gothic architecture, while others works don’t immediately suggest a connection with such obvious religious styles or structures.

Go check it out.  Go enjoy it.  And enjoy it your way.