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What is it good for? 

The rusty, the worn, the tattered, and torn.” These are the preferred types of antique detritus mixed-media artist Erin Perry uses in her exhibit, “The Pity of War.” Perry’s art is featured at Cambria’s Allied Arts Gallery through May 1. The exhibit truly embraces the idea that one man’s trash can be another’s treasure. The altered books and canvas-based collages have an old-fashioned, scrapbook-style feel that can transport the audience to the long-distant world wars of the 20th century.


“In a lot of the pieces, I tried to just capture a moment,” Perry said. “Not an entire battle or campaign or something, but a real human moment.”

One of the 20 pieces that will be on display features a vintage photo of children evacuees in London, mounted on a canvas bordered by realistic replicas of their identification tags. Perry uses items that range from shell casings to torn Stars of David, from old coins to shards of glass. Combined with canvas, paint, pastels, cheesecloth, and paper, the historic bits are made into meaningful art.

Inspiration for the show comes from Perry’s travels through England. A moment in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey sparked the idea for the war-themed art.

“Standing there on [WWI poet Wilfred Owen’s] grave and seeing the other graves there, it was really powerful,” Perry said. “It kind of brought the wars home to me in a way that I hadn’t felt before.”

The title of the exhibit comes from the quote on Owen’s grave: “My subject is War and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.” The show also serves as a way for Perry to honor her father, who was a sergeant in the Army Air Corps.

Gallery hours are Fridays, 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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