Step into fantasy world at Sheppard gallery exhibit
Rebekah Bogard, UNR assistant professor of ceramics, installs her exhibit, “Love and Leisure,” at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibit runs through Feb. 16.

By Merrie Leininger

"Love and Leisure" is the title of the new exhibit at the Sheppard Gallery by University of Nevada, Reno art professor Rebekah Bogard and yes, it does give you the warm fuzzies.

Bogard has been teaching at UNR for three years and her well-regarded sculptures can often be seen at group shows throughout Northern Nevada, but this is the first time she will have her own show here.

She has transformed the gallery into a fairy-tale land; a warm and cozy environment perfect for her childlike earthenware "creatures" that eat, drink, snuggle and romp with butterflies between the ceramic topiaries inspired by the illustrations in C.S. Lewis books.

"Since it's the first solo show I've had in Reno, I want the work to really make you be in the now when you walk in," she said. "And they really do look happy in there."

Childhood is where she draws a lot of her inspiration, she said.

"Nature's always been an important source for me. My parents instilled a deep appreciation of nature in me. My work has always been about animals. I was a shy kid and I remember my imaginary friends were all animals," she said.
Most of the pieces were created while Bogard was at a three-month artists' workshop at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb.

"My life there was filled with love and leisure and filled with a bunch of other artists. They give you the time and the space to work," she said. "I was missing my husband, which is why so much of it is about romance and anticipation, but I really didn't realize how hard I was working until I came back, because I was doing something I love."

Bogard said she's also tried to instill the pieces with a sense of design and balance. Some of the pastel pieces have native-looking tattoos which were inspired by patterns on fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper and in architecture.

She agrees when others see influences of video games, Japanimation and just quiet stop-and-smell-the-flowers general life experiences.
"I think it's a little fantasy land and a bit of a candy land," she said. "Everything you do in life feeds into your artwork. My husband plays a lot of video games and loves Japanimation -- that's creeped into my work. It's not something I've been trying to do, but I do seem to gravitate to those images."

The one thing in our everyday lives that Bogard tries to keep out of her work is negativity.

"I think the world can be really negative and we tend to forget about beauty and magic," she said. "Art has the power to change the world and create great memories. I am trying to make it a better place and remind people that magic is all around us. When people go to an art exhibit, it's a portal, an escape."

-- Merrie Leininger, Reno Gazette-Journal. Read more from Merrie at

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