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I met Lois Fiore at the Brickbottom Artist Building on the outskirts of Union Square. Fiore is a diminutive woman, who sports large glasses, and has the appearance of a retired academic. In fact, Fiore did work for the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, in the roles of assistant to the curator and assistant editor. Fiore wanted to talk about an exhibit she curated and participated in at the Brickbottom Gallery titled Peace: Cutting Through the Turmoil.

The artists’ work that were displayed at this setting were by Cynthia Staples (I published her poetry in The Somerville Times), Cedric Harper, Riki Moss, and Byrnmore Williams. Fiore told me that she was inspired to curate this collection just before Trump’s election. She intuitively knew that he would win, despite protests from her friends. She wanted to explore how people pass through pain into peace. Fiore said, “The whole point of the show is to move forward in spite of all this pain we are experiencing.”

And after Fiore showed me around the exhibit I had the distinct impression that these talented artists indeed expressed this vividly through their work. There was photography, painting, video, all contributing to what Fiore characterizes as an “interactive show.”

In a film produced by Brynmore Williams, he has dancer Catherine Minsky – a breast cancer survivor – dance with exposed breasts, and there is a painting on the space of the absent breast that was surgically removed.

Cynthia Staples reproduced a trough that pre -Civil War slaves ate from, complete with a large set of mussel shells they used as eating utensils. Her visual is enhanced by her moving text.

Artist Riki Moss had a series of otherworldly creatures created from found objects. Fiore told me that they represented displaced immigrants. And in their distorted faces I could see a glint of hope.

Fiore, an accomplished artist in her own right, has several pieces at the gallery. The two that struck me were depictions of what were probably third world women. They were painted with vivid orange hues. Their expressions capture the mission statement of the exhibit. Their lips, their mournful, expressive eyes, say it all.

Fiore is not formally trained as an artist, but she has taken courses at the Cambridge Adult Education Center, the Art Institute in Boston, and elsewhere.

Fiore said she loves the vibes at the Brickbottom. She loves that she is able to live with people of her own sensibility. People who understand the creative ups and downs that an artist goes through. She continues to work on her abstracts and portraits. And we are looking to hear more stories from her, here, in the Paris of New England.

 

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