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Artists call upon the ancients at Boston Sculptors Gallery

A view of Donna Dodson's "Amazons Among Us" show at Boston Sculptors Gallery.Donna Dodson

Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein’s sculptures kindle an ancient reverence for nature. Dodson’s work echoes the sacred totems of societies attuned to the earth’s cycles, threats, and gifts. Moerlein approaches the sublime through sticks and stones. The artists, who are married, collaborate on public art projects as the Myth Makers. They also work individually, and now each has a show at Boston Sculptors Gallery.

The four wooden icons in Dodson’s “Amazons Among Us” nod to Albrecht Dürer’s engraving “The Four Horsemen” from “The Apocalypse” series. She bases these female figures on mythological women warriors in Africa, India, ancient Greece and Rome, and on her own great-aunt Alice, a soldier in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. They have the heads of beasts and the bodies of sturdy women, inscribed with tattoos with mythic meaning.


Donna Dodson's "Alpha Female," 2020.Brian Wilson/Courtesy Donna Dodson

Unlike Dürer’s threatening quartet, who hurtle toward societal destruction, these figures are rock steady and proud. They hold the space for work about women warriors by other artists Dodson has invited. It’s like a chapel dedicated to ferocious protection and love.

Moerlein also welcomes other artists into dialogue with the works in his show — poems, art, and bonsai that reflect his questions about how to partner with the earth. His pieces, large and small, say so much on their own.

Andy Moerlein's "Elegy for the Earth, 2021.Brian Wilson/Courtesy Andy Moerlein

He was inspired by the ancient Chinese practice of placing a stone on a pedestal for contemplation. In addition to rocky shapes he fashions himself, he showcases wood, calling to mind the strict yet wild formality of a bonsai garden. In “Elegy for the Earth” a stone form painted audacious peach flies cloudlike above a trio of blue-painted branches that rise and arc as if wind-whipped.

Moerlein sets a gorgeous chunk of spalted rock maple on a painted plywood base, creating tension in “Seeking Vein — Finding Heart.” Deliciously twisty and rutted, both read like mountain landscapes. The maple is natural and unpainted; the plywood is engineered and covered in red, green, and yellow. Yet one mirrors the other. As all Moerlein’s works do, it reminds viewers that we are one with and reflect the natural world. Whether we like it or not.


Andy Moerlein's "Seeking Vein – Finding Heart," 2021.Brian Wilson/Courtesy Andy Moerlein



At Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave., through June 6. 617-482-7781,

Cate McQuaid can be reached at