What’s with the watermelon statue?

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum presented Tony Matelli’s Hera as part of its Main Street sculpture series May 6.

The series offers an opportunity for artists to create site-specific work for the Aldrich’s most public site, the front lawn.

This work is an extension of Matelli’s garden sculptures series, initiated in 2015, in which he defaces garden statuary of classical or religious icons and subverts material expectation.

Based on an ancient Greek statue of Hera and poised atop a pedestal, the statue — fabricated out of cast stone — is aged to mimic a centuries-old patina.

An imposing nine feet tall and sited on a three-foot-tall pedestal, the neo-classical figure is juxtaposed with hand-painted cast-bronze watermelons, whole, halved and quartered, that balance on her head, within the creases and folds of her drapery, and at her feet. These faux-perishables, poised upon the intentionally eroded and debased figure, are presented in an eternal state of freshness.

In doing so, Matelli stages opposing entropic forces, the synthetically preserved and the forcibly decayed.