It is not unusual for Lorraine Sullivan to open her front door in the morning and find a random piece of trash on the doorstep.
But the retired art teacher doesn’t take offense. Among her Arlington neighbors, she is well known as an artist who works in “found objects,” creating pieces of art out of items that other people have discarded.
Rusty pieces of metal, broken contraptions, and odd photos are just a few of the items that typically show up in her installations.
Throughout the 32 years she spent teaching at Burlington High School, Sullivan motivated herself with the promise that once she retired, she would pursue her own art. And she didn’t waste any time. Within days of her retirement 10 years ago, she had sold her piano and given away her couch in order to turn her living room into a studio.
Soon thereafter, she started applying to shows. At first, acceptances were few; then they became more common. Now, for the first time, Sullivan has a solo show, “Connections,” which is on display at the Carney Gallery Fine Arts Center at Regis College through March 11.
Some of the found objects that Sullivan uses in her pieces are items she picks up while strolling along the beach, or things her neighbors come across while walking their dogs, but she also uses items from her own past, particularly old photos.
One piece in the Regis exhibition is called “Absent the Photographer,” a reference to her father, who always took family photos but never appeared in them himself.
Another one, “Sticks and Stones,” includes a photo of her father’s eighth-grade class — the last year he attended school.
“In the center of the picture I made pockets: one filled with sticks and one with stones, and written around the photo are the nicknames by which the kids were called” — many of which were ethnic or insulting, which reminds Sullivan of her own experiences during 32 years of teaching.
“But there’s also humor in most of my pieces,” Sullivan said. “I don’t want to get too preachy. A lot of my work is very tongue-in-cheek.”
Even if her friends and neighbors were to stop dropping off found items, Sullivan said, she has enough of a collection in her home to keep creating art for years to come.
“I have one piece made from a black bikini that I wore back when I was dating my husband. I have foundry molds that are used in bridge-building. I have all kinds of broken machines and rusty things. I even have a ’42 Nash. Not the whole car, but pieces of the hood. And I’m definitely going to do something with that.”
Sullivan considers herself a storyteller, but working through art rather than prose. And the more she exhibits her works, the more she discovers the ways in which they resonate with other people.
Not long ago, she sold a piece that centered around a photo of her mother, with words etched into the glass frame. For Sullivan, the piece evokes her own gradual realization, well into adulthood, that her mother was a vibrant young woman before having five children.
“I said to the woman who bought it, ‘Why would you want a picture of my mother?’ ” Sullivan recalled. “And the woman said, ‘Because this is the story of my mother, too.’
“I’m just beginning to realize how universal some of my themes actually are,’’ she said.
The Carney Gallery is at 235 Wellesley St. in Weston. For gallery hours or more information, call 781-768-7000 or go to www.regiscollege.edu.
PERSIAN FUSION: Iranian-born guitarist Shah Hadjebi leads his band Persian Blue on an international journey exploring his Persian roots, blending folk melodies and Farsi with fusion jazz, during a performance Thursday at 7 p.m. at Karoun Restaurant, 839 Washington St. in Newtonville.
Tickets are $10, with children under age12 admitted free. For tickets or more information, call 617-964-3400 or go to www.newtonjazzandwinefestival.com.
HARMONIOUS FUN: The annual Wick Choral Festival, an invitational event for a capella groups hosted by St. Mark’s School in Southborugh, takes place Friday and Saturday evenings.
The festival features local high school ensembles with special appearances by collegiate groups. Friday night’s musical lineup includes students from Northfield Mount Hermon School, Pomfret School, Wheeler School, St. Mark’s, and Middlebury College.
Saturday night features a cappella singers from Roxbury Latin, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Middlesex, St. Mark’s, and American University.
Admission is free, and the performances both nights run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Class of 1945 Hall, Putnam Family Arts Center, 25 Marlboro Road.
For more information, go to www.stmarksschool.org.
SHREK ON STAGE: Steps off Broadway Productions Inc. opens its production of “Shrek the Musical” this weekend with performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bellingham Marketplace, 799 South Main St., with additional shows Feb. 8-10.
Featuring a cast of local performers ranging in age from 7 to 50, the show is the story of the ogre Shrek and his loyal donkey sidekick as they set off on a quest to rescue the temperamental Princess Fiona.
Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling 508-876-9797.
WOMEN AND MUSIC: The Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University celebrates the 25th anniversary of Judith Tick’s anthology, “Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition 1150-1950,” with two events on Sunday.
“Women and Music Mix” begins with a talk by Tick at 3:30 p.m., followed by a gala concert at 7 p.m. featuring excerpts from the women Tick writes about. The afternoon talk will be held at the research center’s Epstein Building, 515 South St. in Waltham. The event is free, but reservations are required; e-mail info@ wammix.org.
Tickets for the concert, to be held in Slosberg Recital Hall, 415 South St. in Waltham, are $20, or $15 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased by calling 781-736-3400 or online at www.brandeis.edu/tickets. For more information, go to www.wammix.org.
DREAM WEAVERS: The New England Fiber Collective presents “Dreaming in Color” at the ArtSpace Gallery in Maynard through Feb. 15, with the works of four artists working in fiber reflecting the unusual imagery of dreams.
An opening reception will be held Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 63 Summer St. in Maynard. For more information, call 978-897-9828 or go to www.artspacemaynard.com.
GRID STUDIES: Artists and frequent coexhibitors Marie Craig and Jeanne Williamson present “On and Off the Grid” at Fountain Street Fine Art in Framingham opening Thursday and running through Feb. 24. A reception will be held Feb. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Craig is a photographer whose work often focuses on architectural elements, while Williamson works in monoprints; her pieces in this show explore the textures and patterns created by grids of construction fences. The gallery at 59 Fountain St. is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, call 508-879-4200 or go to www.fountainstreetfineart.com.
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