Raina Belleau – A Modern Menagerie?

Possible, but we couldn’t be further from the symbolism that Tennessee Williams showed us, there’s nothing fragile or old-fashioned here.

Providence’s Raina Belleau comes to us by way of Minnesota and one can see a mid-western influence in her work, especially in the treatment of the faux-taxidermy elements which figure prominently. While they may be positioned at odd angles or made up critters altogether, there’s a sense of Native American spirituality with the respect paid to them, and nature in general, represented in her work.


The Oracle, 2016 | 60 x 24 x 42 Acrylic paint, apoxie sculpt, bandage, chair, door mat, electrical components, extension cord, faux fur, jeans, LEDs, mirror, paper mache, plaster and spray paint

We watch miniature bugs crawling through a tiny campsite in her video Everlasting, there’s The Oracle sculpture, a human-polar bear hybrid with two left feet, and she’s also shown us a shaggy faux fur piece called Companion with fleshy bits that could be creating or consuming marshmallow-shaped objects – a most interesting pet indeed. All of these odd pieces carry a sense of fun, but her work seriously reckons with ideas to our relationship with our natural environment. There’s always something a bit decrepit that’s happened, mushrooms show up in a few of her installations.


Still from Everlasting, 2014 | Duration: 2:54 Video, color, sound

Ian Alden Russell, the self-described curator/strategist/educator, points out that Raina’s status as an emerging artist may be evolving towards the next step, “They’re someone who is already having shows, transitioning from self-started projects, to where opportunities are manifesting themselves…”

We’re looking forward to her collaboration with Caleb Churchill, entitled Fantasia Colorado, for Satellite Art Show, coming up at Miami Art Week with GRIN contemporary gallery and congratulate her on her recent Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) fellowship grant for 2017.

Top image Companion, 2014 | 38 x 12 x 18 Faux fur, recycled insulation, polymer clay, foam, cast resin, dog collars, acrylic paint, music stand
All images by Caleb Churchill
Jennifer HayesRaina Belleau – A Modern Menagerie?

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