Connecting the Dots, by Myrna Balk: May 5-28, 2017

Boston, Massachusetts – Myrna Balk’s retrospective exhibit, Connecting the Dots, which brings together a lifetime of art-making, will be on display May 5-28 at the Piano Craft Gallery. The culturally rich multimedia show includes fifty etchings and twenty sculptures in steel, clay, barn materials, found objects, and fiber art. The exhibition reflects Balk’s continuing concern with issues of human suffering close to home and in other lands, as well as displaying numerous works that are purely artistic.

Opening Reception: Sunday, May 7, 3:00-6:00 p.m.

Artist Discussion, Poetry Reading, & Reception: Sunday, May 21, 3:00-6:00 p.m.

Balk, both an artist and a social worker, has worked closely with victims of sex trafficking in Nepal and has helped them translate their stories into pictures. The work which grew out of this collaboration and which is included in Connecting the Dots, was previously exhibited in Nepal, Cleveland, and Boston. Eight of Balk's etchings on sex trafficking were also part of an exhibit at the United Nations in New York in 2000.

“My work is my way of standing up and saying Pay attention!” says Balk, “but when I work, I don’t work as an activist with a message. I work as an artist.” Balk is the recipient of three Mass Cultural Council grants and two invitations to international workshops, one with Sir Anthony Caro and one in Mumbai, India.

Using etchings, woodcuts, sculpture, collages, and installations, Balk pulls together multifaceted problems. Her simple linear images allow one to contemplate the issues. Some themes appear early on and are not seen again until many years later, when the issues once again compel Balk to move the ‘dots’ around.

Through her expressive sculptures of clay, bamboo, and steel and a broad grasp of printmaking technique, including etchings, monotypes, and woodcuts, Myrna Balk asserts the essential dignity and humanity of abused women. With a light, almost innocent touch, her allegorical works bring one into shadowy environments that feel both domesticated and dangerous, empower one to look with compassion upon victims of sex trafficking, genital mutilation, hunger, and the Holocaust.

Balk attended the University of Iowa, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She began to work in larger scale after studying welding with Anthony Caro in 1983. Her work was shown in Beijing in 1995 in conjunction with the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women.  Her work has been shown additionally in Cleveland, Glasgow, Beijing, Budapest, and Nepal.

In 2015, Balk completed a Dunes Residency at the Cape Cod National Seashore in Provincetown, Massachusett. In 2008 at the Ambani Foundation in Mumbai, India, she created large-scale works in marble, sandstone, and bamboo which reside in its permanent collection.

Balk was awarded grants from the Brookline Commission for the Arts in 2006 and 2002 and from the Cambridge Council for the Arts in 2002. In her companion field of social work, Balk was awarded a Centennial Alumni Award from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and she received the Beverly Ross Fliegel Award for Social Policy and Change from the National Association of Social Work in 2003. She has received numerous awards from the City of Boston for her sculptural gardens. myrna@myrnabalk.com www.myrnabalk.com

Free to the public. Gallery open Fridays 4-8:00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12-5:00 p.m.

The May 21 Artist Discussion and Poetry Reading will feature Jan Schreiber and Sasja Lucas:

Jan Schreiber is a poet and critic who recently completed a term as Poet Laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts. A graduate of Stanford with an MA from the University of Toronto and a PhD from Brandeis University, he has published four books of poems, including Wily Apparitions (1992) and Peccadilloes (2014), as well as two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. A cycle of his poems, Zeno’s Arrow, was set to music by Paul Alan Levi in 2001. His poems have appeared in many journals in Canada, England, and the United States as well as both print and on-line anthologies. His criticism has been widely published and was collected in his book Sparring with the Sun (Antilever Press, 2013). He teaches in the BOLLI program at Brandeis University and runs the annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western State Colorado University.

Sasja Lucas has been a visual artist since her childhood. She started writing poetry when she joined the Hyde Park Poets in 2009 and the Roslindale Poets in 2016. Her work is being published in the anthology of the Carpenter Poets of Eastern Massachusetts. She has had readings with the Hyde Park Poets, Carpenter Poets, Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish, and Rozzie Reads Poetry. To see her visual poetry, please go to www.sasjalucas.com.

The Piano Craft Gallery, dedicated to offering thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions, is a historic Boston landmark located at 793 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.pianocraftgallery.com or www.facebook.com/gallerypf.

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