7. RI Housing

Holly Gaboriault

Paintings from the Africa Series

About the Work
My work is about telling stories, creating new folktales and new worlds. Much archeology and research goes into my work and is essential in order to find inspiration in the traditions and folklore from different cultures. I find their different perspectives, concerns and rituals have transformed my work over the past several years. Crossing the bridge between words and images, as I do with mask and puppet making, one thing always affects another and triggers something new.
The work in this window is an exploration of an African folk art series exploring pattern, color and its iconic shapes to evoke new stories. The primary themes in African art are based upon nature, humanity and roles people play which greatly influence my work.

The Silhouettes of Sudan were a series of four paintings inspired by the strong African silhouette and the cultural identity of hairstyles both past and present.
Tree of Forgiveness tells a story of the central figure dressed in royal robes leaning on a tree bearing weeping masks. As in many cultures, it is a belief that everything in this life has a spirit inhabiting it. So it is hard to tell if the man has transferred his grief to the tree or is comforting the tree with his own hand placed upon it.
Jungelaro Rising began as a study of the expressive, sometimes playful, and evocative art of African masks. The power of masks can carry spirits and possess the people wearing them in both community and private ceremony where rituals and rites of passage are performed. This painting illustrates where these enlarged masks as hot air balloons used for leisure, not ceremony, rising above a landscape to some unknown destination.
Pachebel’s Canon in D Major is a piece about the connection of people, one holding and one being held inspired by the music of Pachebel.

About the Artist
I have always believed that storytelling feeds the imagination and gives people power. When I was very young, I filled my days writing and drawing pictures for my stories, long before I knew that was what an illustrator did. I am an author, painter, illustrator, designer and sculptor who finds the unimaginative rather dull and a certain elegance in what may exist.

Graduating from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration, my first love was always archeology. I became fascinated with Egypt as a child and mummified meat for every science fair. It was inevitable that I would find inspiration in the other histories and cultures, African folktales and stories from places such as Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico. Ceremonies, rituals, costumes and music create new characters and worlds as I cross the bridge between words and images. Making Javanese rod puppets and both African and Balinese masks became a new direction to explore these ideas. Working in theater and ballet allowed me to work on larger scales and apply my interest for set and costume design.
Color, pattern and play are central themes in my work. I write and illustrate children’s books and have created a series of Etiquette Collage books satirizing Victorian social codes and timely tips. As a graphic designer, I create window displays and graphics for a variety of clients, including small businesses, restaurants, non-profits and artists. My work is exhibited in galleries throughout New England.

Currently I am working on two children’s books and a series of collage books and creating paintings for future exhibitions. My studio in Providence is shared with two felines, Mexican music in the air and steaming cups of mango tea.

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