The house that therapy built: Multimedia artist Lisa Winter to display “My House” at the Wendell Meetinghouse this Sunday

Lisa Winter with her creation, “My House,” in her Wendell home. It will be on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on May 5, and Winter will be on hand to discuss the project’s evolution.

Lisa Winter with her creation, “My House,” in her Wendell home. It will be on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on May 5, and Winter will be on hand to discuss the project’s evolution. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The functioning fireplace in the miniature house created by Lisa Winter of Wendell. In it, Winter burns incense and scraps of paper with negative thoughts written on them.

The functioning fireplace in the miniature house created by Lisa Winter of Wendell. In it, Winter burns incense and scraps of paper with negative thoughts written on them. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Jane Bombardo is a character in the “My House€” miniature house created by Lisa Winter. Bombardo is made with Winter’s own hair and handmade chain mail.

Jane Bombardo is a character in the “My House€” miniature house created by Lisa Winter. Bombardo is made with Winter’s own hair and handmade chain mail. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A viking ship sits atop Lisa Winter’s “My House” because, in Winter’s words, she felt she was in a storm by the time 2021 rolled around.

A viking ship sits atop Lisa Winter’s “My House” because, in Winter’s words, she felt she was in a storm by the time 2021 rolled around. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Lisa Winter created this miniature house, “My House,” in her Wendell home.

Lisa Winter created this miniature house, “My House,” in her Wendell home. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A detail of the bar scene in the miniature house created by Lisa Winter of Wendell.

A detail of the bar scene in the miniature house created by Lisa Winter of Wendell. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

One character in Lisa Winter’s “My House” is a recently retired nurse who took off her face mask but refuses to remove her Red Cross nurse cap, because she renewed her nursing license.

One character in Lisa Winter’s “My House” is a recently retired nurse who took off her face mask but refuses to remove her Red Cross nurse cap, because she renewed her nursing license. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A detail of the miniature house created by Lisa Winter in Wendell.

A detail of the miniature house created by Lisa Winter in Wendell. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-03-2024 12:31 PM

Lisa Winter is a multimedia artist who has dabbled in miniatures for decades, but life as a registered nurse during a time of political turmoil (and, eventually, a global pandemic) took a toll that led her to therapy “just to sort things out.” The ensuing introspection generated her own avatar, Jane Bombardo.

“Of course ... a house was needed,” Winter recounted. “Then, the house was born.”

“My House” is the result of dark emotions and personal healing. It will be on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Winter will be on hand to discuss the project’s evolution, the work behind its fabrication and its use as a therapeutic intervention. She handcrafted the 1:12-scale tabletop-sized structure –  from its working hearth and garden fountain to its seedy back alley – and populated it with characters, fixtures and objects of personal and cultural significance. She avoids calling it a dollhouse due to the adult themes represented in parts of it, and her target audience is young adults and older.

“[It’s] a house where I could kind of assert my will over my surroundings and have whatever I wanted in there. Uncensored, you could say,” Winter, 68, told the Greenfield Recorder, standing in front of her latest work in her Wendell home. “As I’m making this, the pandemic starts, Trump was president. I was a nurse practicing in a pandemic. I was so beside myself. So I was kind of acting out a lot of stuff.”

Jane Bombardo is the star and “kind of the boss.” She is made of the artist’s hair and chain mail she made herself. Winter said one lady, named Sass, is “a little sadistic, actually” and another character is a recently retired nurse, who took off her face mask but refuses to remove her Red Cross nurse cap, because she renewed her nursing license.

The house includes a bar with miniature liquor bottles she bought off the internet and prescription bottles she made herself. One of the beers available is Betray Ale.

“That came on the menu after a specific event,” she said, insinuating the event was the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The sketchy fenced-out side alley is complete with a junkyard dog, fake discarded cigarette butts, painted vomit stains and a dumpster.

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“I just throw crap in here, periodically,” she said, lifting the dumpster’s lid.

The wall near the dumpster features a poster for an October 1951 boxing match pitting Rocky Marciano against Joe Louis, billed as the “Battle of the Kings.”

“When I was born, my father said I looked like Rocky Marciano,” she said. “So I had to have a little tribute to that.”

A viking ship sits atop the miniature house because, in Winter’s words, she felt she was in a storm by the time 2021 rolled around. The house also includes a functioning hearth, where Winter burns incense and scraps of paper with negative thoughts written on them.

“To me, it’s more than an art piece because I can play with it,” she said.

Winter reached out to the Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse to see if they were interested in featuring her miniature house for an exhibit. President Court Dorsey said the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization jumped at the opportunity. He said Winter is a talented and inspired visual artist who has a couple of times won “Best Costume” at the town’s Misfit Prom, a parade, party and concert in town. Dorsey said the Meetinghouse is meant to be a space where residents can express themselves and display their work. He mentioned he has not yet seen “My House.”

“She’s described to me some of the things that are in it and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve ever had anything like this.”

Anyone interested in learning more can send an email to janebombardo@gmail.com or follow the avatar on Instagram at www.instagram.com/jane_bombardo.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.