For the past month, the Tucson art gallery called "& gallery" has been hosting Lore, an art exhibition focused on the spooky and scary. Featuring over 20 local artists and a variety of artistic mediums, Lore seeks to explore folktales from a variety of cultures and countries. The exhibition is open until Oct. 30 and tickets can be purchased on & gallery’s website.
For Cynthia Naugl, a toy designer and curator of & gallery, the Lore exhibition was an opportunity to feature art from Tucson’s BIPOC and minority artists.
“For the curating, we wanted to focus on mainly POCs and minorities. We have over 20 artists … and they’re from all different cultural backgrounds,” Naugl said.
In addition to featuring a diverse group of artists, Lore also features a diverse range of art.
“Each artist is doing a piece based off of their own personal background,” Naugl said. “And we have all kinds of different mediums. We have sculptures, clothing, different illustrations, paintings, digital art and toy design.”
For Riley Harper, a digital and traditional artist featured in the exhibition, a gallery focused on spooky folklore connected directly with her long-held love for and interest in horror.
“I am transgender, [and] for me, that is where my horror attachment came from,” Harper said.
“As a young kid, growing up feeling like all these kinds of emotions and thoughts that I didn't really know how to contextualize, monsters helped me feel like I could belong to a world where these creatures don't really know what their place in the world is and are still trying to figure that out," Harper said.
Besides exploring a much-loved genre with Lore, Harper also got to explore some new territory with her Lore pieces.
“I tried a new technique with these pieces," Harper said. "And I feel like I'm liking what I got out of it and I learned a lot. I think that might be kind of a little sneak peek of what the direction of my art might take in the future.”
For Em Gowan, another artist featured in Lore, folklore’s importance comes from its function as a warning. The two folkloric figures featured in her pieces, the banshee and the kelpie, exist as warning tales in Irish folklore.
“The kelpie story was originally to warn children not to play near dangerous waters,” Gowan said.
Gowan, who grew up in the UK, spent her childhood reading fantasy. Today, much of her work contains fantastical elements and themes.
“Growing up reading fantasy novels, I found I would get trapped in those worlds and it was a little better. Sometimes it took me away from reality which wasn't, sometimes, as exciting," Gowan said. "So, at least for me, it was kind of an escape.”
For other artists in the exhibition, folklore can include more modern tales. Nick Arcade, artist and owner of clothing store Black Broccoli, chose to focus one of his pieces for Lore on Candyman, the urban legend from the 1992 film of the same name.
Besides finding the backstory of the Candyman character interesting, Arcade said he also feels connected to the movie because of his connection to the setting.
“[Candyman’s] backstory is super compelling to me,” Arcade said. “I grew up outside of Chicago. My dad’s actually from Chicago. I’m familiar with the city itself, I feel connected with the movie.”
Arcade works with a variety of materials with his art, particularly clothing, which he sells in his store.
“I thrift things and then put my own spin on them,” Arcade said.
In addition to clothing, Arcade also has worked with a motorcycle helmet and with mirrors. His pieces for the Lore gallery include clothing items and a Candyman themed mirror.
For all of the artists involved with the gallery, being able to present their culture and folklore and understand others’ was very important.
“Because it [is] such a diverse range of artists, I was really excited to go there and learn about stories I hadn't heard [from] different cultures,” Gowan said.
Naugl, whose piece was inspired by a scary story her uncle would tell her, sharing art based on folklore and folktales is important because it continues the tradition of sharing these stories.
“I feel like [folklore] is important because it is part of history; it's the way we spoke to each other. You'd gather around and tell the stories, like the story that my uncle told me … and here I am telling it," Nagul said. "It's like our legacy."
Lore will be open until the end of October. Tickets can be found on & gallery’s website and are $5. Riley Harper’s art can be found on her Instagram, @isubforbeelzebub, Em Gowan's art can be found on Instagram, @dronewitch and Nick Arcade’s work can be found on his Instagram, @thethriftadvocate and on Black Broccoli’s Instagram, @_blackbroccoli_, as well.
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