Emily Lombardo’s exquisite prints in “Soft Butch Blues” at Childs Gallery chronicle one queer couple’s journey to parenthood through intrauterine insemination — that of the artist and her wife, Anna. I saw the show the day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion to the decision hinted that more rights might be threatened, including same-sex marriage.
The drypoint prints, etched on a bare plate with a steel needle, are small and lovingly made, their subjects intimate: hormone injection, nursing. In the mundane and alarming “And Her Mother Before Her,” the news headline “Battle over last MO abortion clinic,” flashes across a television beside a very pregnant, resting Anna, juxtaposing one couple’s private choice about parenthood with clashes over public policies about reproduction.
The brilliant final image, “They can never tear us apart (on repeat),” can only be viewed in full in the gallery; for privacy, Lombardo has mostly cropped herself out of the frame for sharing the image publicly. It shows the two mothers in bed with their suckling newborn. Bringing us into their bedroom, this picture of the tender love of new parents makes clear just why judges and policymakers should stay the hell out of it.
Resa Blatman’s “Pure Love: Stardust, Clouds, and Dandelions,” a tonic of a show in Childs’s storefront space, is the latest in a blossoming trend of art that intentionally calls in beauty in the face of disaster.
The artist, known for gorgeous but cautionary paintings and installations about climate change, has had COVID-19 twice, she says. The first time it landed her in the hospital. She’s been wrestling with mortality, and she views these works as memento mori. They have a touch of the sublime.
“When We Die, We’ll Float in Space on a Dandelion Nebula” is a wall-mounted installation painted on sheets of hand-cut Mylar that looks wind-whipped. The wall is midnight blue, and the nebula dark and sparkling with glitter, then pale and splashed with light. Painted dandelion heads pop out. It’s breathtaking, but the turmoil of its motion feels threatening, a picture of the constancy of change. We are all evanescent, this show conveys, and all the more wondrous for that.
EMILY LOMBARDO: SOFT BUTCH BLUES through July 30
RESA BLATMAN — PURE LOVE: STARDUST, CLOUDS, AND DANDELIONS through July 9
At Childs Gallery, 168 Newbury St., 617-266-1108, www.childsgallery.com
Cate McQuaid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.