Animals and India highlights of library art shows

Animals and India are the focuses of thought-provoking art exhibits on view at the Parker Hill Branch Library at 1497 Tremont St.

“Animal Nature” by Ileana Hernandez, showing through Dec.31, is a series of photos that use humor to express behavioral similarities between humans and their pets.

An a group show of paintings and photos titled “Inspired by India” runs through Jan. 31.

“It is a pleasure to display the work of these creative and talented artists at our branch,” said branch librarian Rebecca Manos.

Hernandez and her husband recently moved to Boston from Mexico. She graduated this spring from the Massachusetts College of Art and Designand with a certificate in photography. In Mexico, she has been an engineer.

Hernandez, her husband and her pets currently live in Malden, and this is her first photography show.

Her photographs compare how humans and animals behave.

“When I came to Boston, I was new to the city, with no friends or family, so I decided to study and photograph my pets,” she told the Gazette.

For “Inspired by India,” Lucinda Dassardo-Cooper, a Dorchester resident, brought several artists together in a collaborative exhibit through her work with MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships.

It includes photographs by Roxbury artist Maddu Huacuja and paintings by Indian artist Jyoti Puri and Dassardo-Cooper herself.

Dassardo-Cooper is a coordinator of exhibits in three community sites in Mission Hill: the library, Butterfly Coffee, and the Sparring Partner exhibition windows at the corner of Longwood and Huntington avenues. CACP’s mission is to enliven community spaces and celebrate the work of community artists.

According to Dassardo-Cooper, “Inspired by India” was “a serendipitous happenstance.” She had met Puri, who is from Mumbai, through the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. in the early 1990s. They have maintained contact ever since. Renaissance woman Puri is a biologist who teaches in India and New Zealand. Her paintings of shepherds in the desert were chosen for this exhibit because of their evocative scenes reminding viewers of the holiday season. Huacuja contributed a photographic series of her trip to India. The artwork of Huacuja and Puri both depict life and landscape in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which became an unintended coincidence in the curation of this exhibit.

Dassardo-Cooper felt that including her paintings of India in the exhibit that she curated would be self-serving, but Rebecca Manos, head librarian at Parker Hill Branch Library and a long-time partner of CACP, was enthusiastic about their beauty. The photos are now located in the back room as a separate, yet connected, part of the Inspired by India exhibition.

The exhibit depicts several beautiful and peaceful scenes of India, including a photograph of a colorful elephant by Huacuja, but Dassardo-Cooper joked, “It is not the only elephant in the room.” Another photograph, for example, shows handprints on a gate that wives of rajas, or rulers, placed on their way to suicide on their husbands’ funeral pyres in the now-banned tradition of “suttee.”

The “Inspired by India” exhibition will host a reception in January with music and food from India.

For more information, contact the library at 617-427-3820.

“Nilu & Sanjoo,” a photograph by Maddu Huacuja, on display in the “Inspired by India” exhibit. (Courtesy Image)

“Nilu & Sanjoo,” a photograph by Maddu Huacuja, on display in the “Inspired by India” exhibit. (Courtesy Image)

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