The St. Claude Arts District came about as an experiment in community self-determination by artists rebuilding their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Today, the arts are thriving in a community where the freedom to explore new things is its own reward, so it's fitting that the current shows at The Front focus on our rapidly changing world. Cynthia Scott's Un-Nature series explores how technology impacts our sense of reality as climate change and genetic engineering keep us guessing. Here species including bees and zinnias appear in clear cast resin like artifacts preserved in amber, while otherworldly photographs such as Space Garden (pictured) convey an unsettling sense of how our future backyards may look.
The alluring perfection of geometric forms long has inspired scientists, but the human body makes geometry look a lot more lived-in, as we see in Alex Podesta's Ballspine sculpture — an eerily humanoid spinal column with rubber balls as vertebral discs. In another work, tangles of inner tubes suggest intestines, but Infinitude features a sculpted hand clasping a looped inner tube in the figure-eight-shaped infinity symbol in an iconic aspect of Podesta's most eloquently serendipitous work to date. Stacey Holloway's sculptures envision the animal kingdom as a parallel universe with human sensibilities, including a sense of "home" and related longings for status and security in a world where lambs, rabbits and wolves reflect familiar human cravings. In Italian photographer Antonia Zennaro's The Last Singers of Bahia Solano series of photo-tapestries, portraits of Colombian women in a remote region known for narrative singing appear as icons of a vanishing way of life. There, villages are overwhelmed by drug smugglers as lifestyles that traditionally were close to nature are upended. Fishermen, seduced by previously unimaginable riches, are recruited to help move vast quantities of cocaine to the insatiable North — a mutually destructive process that undermines America while slowly silencing a simple and poetic way of life long celebrated in song.