400 irresistible doughnuts Westfall artist Barbara Fiore explores the bear-human relationship in new sculpture installation
A sampling of Barbara Fiore's doughnuts
NARROWSBURG — A new sculpture installation was inspired by bear-baiting, a hunting method that lures bears with stashes of doughnuts and other high calorie treats. “I first learned about bear baiting while visiting my brother in Maine," said Barbara Fiore, whose show, "Baited," opens Friday at the Delaware Arts Alliance Gallery in Narrowsburg, N.Y. "We went for a walk in the woods and came across a pile of old and stale doughnuts laid out in a clearing. At first, I was delighted by the visual of bears eating doughnuts in the night. But then I was horrified when I learned of the sinister reality that was waiting for them. It was a strong visual of the duality of our world.” At present, bear baiting is legal in 11 states. For “Baited,” Fiore created a large painted terra cotta bear installed in the middle of the gallery floor, surrounded by about 400 hand built doughnuts — each unique — from terra cotta, and painted with casein, a milk protein-based paint that has been used since ancient Egypt. Each is playfully designed with colorful frosting, flowers, sweets, birds, insects, and some garbage — a bear’s dream of a doughnut feast. “I have always been inspired by the physical and visual world of animals, nature, and people and how we are all related and how we interact — the good, the bad, and the ugly," said Fiore. "With humor, I use animals to examine what makes us human and what reminds us we are also animals. By anthropomorphizing animals and vice versa, I explore who we are, our emotions, and our relationships.” Fiore was born and raised in New Jersey. She received a degree in art history at New York University and started her artistic career as a digital illustrator and web designer. Tired of the computer, her first experience with clay was in 2008 when she took a continuing education class at the School of Visual Arts in handbuilding — a process of working with clay using only your hands and some basic tools. The “real” world, tactile quality and permanence of clay was instantly appealing. Years of design and doodling came together to create a body of work and possibilities. Fiore lives along the Delaware River in Westfall with her husband, landscape artist Peter Fiore, their senile dachshund, and assorted wildlife, from which she draws much inspiration. She teaches ceramic classes in handbuilding weekly at her studio in Milford. “Baited" opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 6. The exhibit is free and will be on view through May 28 at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance Gallery, 37 Main St., Narrowsburg. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 845-252-7576.