Collage, printmaking dominate Lederer Gallery

Two artists opened solo exhibits on Jan. 31 in the Bertha V.B. Lederer Gallery. Constance Mauro displayed her “New Work” and Juan Carlos Llera shared his “Seven Words & Slavery.”Mauro’s work encompasses a printmaking technique called monoprinting on differing surfaces, including a standout piece “Thaw,” in which she created a monoprint on handmade paper. The focus of her exhibit, however, is her encaustic works – all made in 2013 following her enrollment in an encaustic workshop. Encaustic requires the artist to heat beeswax and add colored pigments to achieve desired color and textures. Before the wax is heated and the process begins, however, the base must be established. Mauro uses prepared birch wood. Then, Mauro creates collages on the base, ranging from old sheet music to images of crosses or spectacles. Only then can the colored wax be painted onto the base with bristle brushes, which will seal the collage onto the wood. “It’s actually quite fun,” Mauro said. “New Work” does not necessarily have one focused theme, as Mauro uses this exhibit to display her first efforts with a new technique. Nonetheless, the works, including a small series Veiled #1 through #4, juxtapose images and color, much to the viewer’s delight. The layers of colored wax on top of the collages blur the images, producing an ethereal tone for all of Mauro’s encaustic works. Contrasting this encaustic-based exhibit are Llera’s chromogenic color prints, or c-prints, mounted on metal, from the late 2000s. According to Llera, his work draws attention to “various and numerous obsessive traps to which humanity has adhered itself.” “Seven Words & Slavery” are in fact separate sets of work. “Seven Words” consists of seven c-prints, each connecting Jesus Christ’s final words to God to events, ideas or moments in history. Llera places quotes such as “I Thirst,” “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” and “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” alongside images: a Coca-Cola logo, a power plant and a chart depicting the stock market crash of 1987, respectively. The seemingly simple pieces send the viewer into existential spirals, questioning the way we live and what we value. Llera’s other set of work “Slavery” consists of 21 c-prints, 16 of which are displayed in the gallery. Llera blames “contemporary anxiety” for our misguided social decisions and makes social commentary with this work. In one piece he juxtaposes a picture of Darth Vader with the word “BOTOX,” potentially drawing laughter at first until the viewer realizes the artist’s purpose. In another print, a woman in a short skirt and fishnet tights leans into a car window alongside the MasterCard logo and slogan: “For everything else there’s MasterCard.” These two solo exhibits can satisfy any viewer, whether the viewer wants to think deeply or appreciate endeavors into something new. The exhibits will be open to the public until March 8.