We live in an age that has little patience with the magical. Children are allowed to see mysterious forces at work in the world, but adults are expected to be clear-eyed.
Those who yearn for a touch of wonder should see Raya Bodnarchuk's current show at the Glen Echo Gallery. Comprised of works in several media, it demonstrates Bodnarchuk's capacity to evoke the mysterious. There are bear head sculptures done in stoneware, silkscreen prints and paper cutouts using stylized shapes of birds and beasts, cast aluminum sculptures that rest on wooden columns, and silver jewelry.
Whatever the medium, Bodnarchuk seeks to invest her images with a kind or primal power reminiscent of African or American Indian art. In the stoneware sculptures, for example, the bear's head is reduced to a hollow conical shape resting, like a ritual vessel, upon a squat round pot-like form. Echoes of other cultures and ancient rites deepen the sculpture's impact.
Similar in feeling are the totem-like cast aluminum sculptures. To make these sculptures Bodnarchuk carves the shape in styrofoam and packs it into a sand mold. She then pours in molten aluminum, which dissolves the styrofoam and leaves a rough-textured piece of solid aluminum. The sculptures, derived from shapes in nature, reach up and outward into space, seeming to perch only momentarily upon their wooden columns.
There is joy as well as mystery in some of the prints. "Prancers," a lyrical, leaping horse surrounded by a sheep an pigs with impudently wiggling tails, is pure delight.
The show runs through the end of October. If you miss it, Bodnarchuk, who is sculptor-in-residence at Glen Echo Park, may be contacted through the Park Service by calling 492-6282.