Like an act of kindness, art can pierce through the white noise of bustling life and stir the heart.
That is the hope of Benicia sculptor Lisa Reinertson with her new series of artwork on display at Epperson Gallery throughout the month of October. The “Borderlands” series focuses on the human suffering resulting from the Trump administration’s family separation policy, which the artist found deeply disturbing.
“All the ideals of justice, compassion, and moral standing of the United States were thrown away by this administration instituting this punitive and cruel policy,” she said. “Images of children in cages, lying on concrete floors, covered in mylar blankets, both enraged me and broke my heart. And then they have lost track of thousands of the children. This is unconscionable. I do not know how much of an impact art can have, but it is the voice I have.”
One of the works on display, “Portrait of an Asylum Seeker,” Reinertson explained, is a portrait of a transgender woman who was escaping
from sexual assault and targeted violence, and whose friend died in custody at the border. “Mother Arrested” and other sculptures in the series are about the separation of children from their mothers at the border.
“By creating artworks that confront the viewer in three-dimensional space, my intention is to touch our hearts. My hope is to remind us of the human decency that our country has always tried to stand for, and to make people think about how we can reclaim the goodness in us as a people.”
Known for her life-size figurative ceramic sculptures and large-scale public sculptures cast in bronze, Reinertson has created several historic bronze monumental portraits of Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, each with intricate narrative bas-relief imagery. In May 2019, her bronze sculpture, “Neptune’s Daughter,” was installed along Benicia’s shoreline walkway behind The Tannery Building. Thematic veins running through her work encompass expressions of humanist compassion and social justice and
peace, as well as the stewardship of our natural environment.
“I have worked primarily with clay over my lifetime as an artist,” she said. “Initially, all of my bronze works were public commissions, but in recent years I have been casting more of my ceramic sculptures in bronze, which has been a wonderful way to bring my studio work into public, outdoor settings, such as ‘Neptune’s Daughter’ here in Benicia.”
Lisa Reinertson’s series, “Borderlands,” is on view at Epperson Gallery, just across the Strait in Crockett, through November 1. Epperson Gallery is at 1400 Pomona Street, Crocket, and gallery hours are 11 to 5, Friday through Sunday. For more information about the gallery, visit www.eppersongallery.com. To learn more about the artist, visit her website at www.lisareinertson.com.