”Friendship” might not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking of dinosaurs, but it is for Lorien Stern. Her second solo exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary, Old Friends, celebrates the connections inhabitants of Earth have to prehistoric creatures while dispelling any fear of dinos as dangerous, menacing beasts. Inspired by the imaginative work paleontologists and paleoartists have done to represent these mysterious creatures, Stern’s work casts the animals from this extremely distant past in an optimistic light, declaring them as sweet and lovable as our oldest friends.

Known for her signature bright, vivid style, Stern understands the origins of her ceramic practice as a way to mourn the loss of loved ones and become brave in the face of perceived danger. In rendering threatening animals or symbols of loss in rounded shapes and flamboyant hues, she transforms the typical connotations of loss into something more palatable. On this subject, Stern remarked “Sometimes to find joy, you have to take scary risks and remind yourself, ‘Well, I am going to die one day,’ which can help give you the little push you need.”

This new series of large and mid-size ceramic wall works and sculptures emphasize the joy and wonder of discovering prehistoric life on Earth. In humanizing these creatures through playful gestures, Stern nags at a human anxiety: how will we be remembered when we are gone? By repositioning these ancient beings as cheery or lighthearted, Stern gives hope that, even for the most petrifying parts of ourselves, our legacy can be one of light, optimism and friendship.