Opposites, successfully married
By Cate McQuaid - Globe Correspondent / November 11, 2009

Process and product
Rich’s mother, Ellen Rich, has been a regular in the Boston art world for decades, exploring some of the same intersections of volume and flatness. She is in a clever group show, “Construction,’’ in the Suffolk University Art Gallery at New England School of Art and Design (both Richs will be in a group show at Nesto Gallery, Milton Academy, opening in December).
“Construction,’’ organized by James Hull, focuses on work in which the process of making is evident in the final product. They share an aesthetic of unpretentious materiality. There’s a scrappy quality to the show, but it’s never amateurish. For instance, Laura Evans’s “Reclining’’ is a simple thing, an unadorned cardboard tube, but she has neatly sectioned and reassembled it into a form that recalls a reclining nude and generations of art history. Ellen Rich’s “Green Down the Middle’’ is a hybrid wall sculpture and painting crafted from wood slats in degrees of green and chunks of foam rubber, put together in a rough, three-dimensional grid, at once garish and modest.
Jeff Smith twits corporate branding and corporate culture with “United Triangle Technologies,’’ a wooden pyramid sculpture made up of smaller pyramids; it’s falling apart at the top because one piece doesn’t quite fit with the rest.
Isabel Riley blends textile and sculpture in “Interior Ticking,’’ pressing mattress ticking tightly between yellow wooden slats, as if the mattress has somehow burrowed into and been trapped by the bed frame. These lead ominously to an upright wooden box made of compressed wood and painted pink on the inside. It’s quite beautifully formal, yet laced with a sense of confinement and threat.