Rich Tomasello, a local artist and high school art teacher whose solo exhibition “Innocence Lost” opens Tuesday in Daemen College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center (4380 Main St., Amherst), inserts dark ideas into familiar packages.
Take, for instance, his series of action figures in custom-designed blister packs which critique the violent undercurrents in products marketed to children by toy manufacturers. Or his monochromatic lunch box, filled not with juice boxes or pudding cups, but with a handgun, grenade and shell casings. Another piece, “Learn,” re-creates a whitewashed row of high school lockers, each containing a dread-inspiring gas mask.
Given Tomasello’s work with his wife and fellow art teacher, Kelly Tomasello, to speak out against bullying, it’s tempting to read this work as a commentary on the unexpected forms latent violence can take.
“Tomasello’s action figures come complete with their plastic blister packs, a post-1960 packaging innovation that has become as familiar to us as the plastic toys themselves,” Erie Art Museum Director John Vanco wrote in a statement about Tomasello’s work. “And here the artist enters our mind and plays with our concepts of propriety.”
The show opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Tuesday and runs through Nov. 25. Call 839-8539 or visit www.daemen.edu.
– Colin Dabkowski