Works by Khalil Allaik were on display at the Siegel Gallery in Iaccoca Hall on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. The exhibition features local artists and will be on display until May 24, 2015. (Anna Simoneau/B&W Photo)

Siegel Gallery showcases local artists’ contemporary work


While cleaning out the cedar closet in the basement of her parent’s home of 47 years,  Jane Noel, a photographer and installation artist, found her old wedding dress looking yellow and aged. Noel hung the dress from a wash line in the basement and photographed it surrounded by old paint cans and the walker of her father who had passed. She said the dress then sat in a big black garbage bag in her studio until she decided what she could do with it before eventually burning it and “letting go.”

Four large-scale photographs of the wedding dress are now being featured in an exhibit along with the work of three other local artists, Khalil Allaik, Angela Fraleigh and Wes Heiss, who focus on contemporary themes. This biennial exhibition will be held in the Siegel Gallery in Iacocca Hall from Feb. 2 until May, open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

Noel said she photographed the dress encompassing the classical elements of earth, fire, water and air. She put the dress flowing underwater in a nearby stream, and then hung it above the water by rope, followed by laying it on the ground covered by dirt and moss in her backyard, and finally, she burned it.

“People hear wedding dress and say ‘aww’ and have that sort of reaction to an item like that because there is so much cultural baggage that comes with it,” Noel said. “And so I never knew quite how I wanted to photograph it, and then I came up with the idea of putting it in water.”

Noel said she believes the more personal your art is, the more universal it can be. She said she wants the viewers to bring their own experiences to her work and enjoys hearing the reaction of her audience.

Similar to Noel, multidisciplinary artist Allaik said he is always interested in what people see in his work because he believes the beauty of art is that anyone can look into his work and see it the way they want.

Allaik is exhibiting a collection of eight wooden sculptures in this gallery that are derived from stories about the universe, the galaxies and other dimensions. Allaik, a Lebanon native, says that he is known for his organic forms that are a combination of abstract, futuristic, and human characteristics.

“In general, my inspiration is a combination between spiritually, science and religion,” Allaik said.

Andrea Fraleigh is displaying oil paintings in this gallery that are derived from removing the dominant male subjects in paintings by Baroque and Rococo masters and leaving the women in a way that changes familiar narratives.

She said the basis of her work is recreating paintings that were created by men, and questioning what happens and changes when she looks through the lens of the male eye, but is shifting it to suit her own interest. She studies the relationship between the women left in the painting now that the main subject has been taken out of the story line.

“Women coming together and telling secrets and stories was the way that progress was made, by telling these fairytales and telling narratives, these women were pushing their agendas forward,” Fraleigh said.

Wes Heiss said he is a sculptor and designer that makes 3 dimensional interactive public art. In this show, he will be displaying a collection of his artistic process that he said he hopes will expose how he thinks. It will include sketchbook pages, computer renders, lists, Polaroid photographs and drawings.

The various contemporary themes created by these four artists in this exhibition will be on display until May.

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