Rising out of the detritus of a dystopian water world, Submerged Motherlands parallels current environmental concerns with its monumental scale and unavoidable immersion. Offering hope through the power and resilience of nature, a gigantic Ceiba tree created from reclaimed fabric damaged during Hurricane Sandy, soars to the dome. Compelling figures in Swoon’s signature “street art” style are woven into the installation, bookended by two ingenious vessels speaking of man’s tenacity in the face of unfathomable challenges. Completed by transparent layers of dripping aquatic paint embroidered with flitting cutwork shadows Swoon transforms the rotunda into a surprising, if disturbing, theatrical installation.
porcelain, resin, silk flowers
Flow, Milwaukee Art Museum
Dribble by Rain Harris seduces, then puzzles, as its glittering eye candy is exposed as nothing more than plastic flowers purchased at the Dollar Store encased in resin. Presenting a fascinating enigma revolving around questions of beauty and taste, Dribble’s floral decorations run amuck and completely overwhelm the “precious” porcelain structure creating a glowing object of exquisite splendor and duplicity. Transformed into loveliness, Dribble scrutinizes the value and prestige of material, process and product. Disturbing traditional notions of the relationship between art, labor, skill, and artistic genius, Dribble hides its rich history of decorative arts behind a cheap, if sparkling facade.
photo courtesy of the artist
PLURAL: two authors review one work.
Linda Ganstrom and Ryder Richards.
Tangled Up in You by Beth Cavener hangs suspended, gently swaying. Gripping a thick rope, the snake strives to consume a large captive hare depicting a conflict with no resolution, a psychological state powered by tremendous emotion. Elegant tattoo patterns illustrate this story of conflict, striving and beauty on the skin of the snake in subtle blue on blue, adding to the watery aesthetic. Requiring the intent viewer to follow the muscular movement of the snake around the tortured hare to read the tattoo, the careful observer is rewarded with secret insight as they decipher the poetic symbolism.
The huddled hare, compressed and dangling within the constrictive musculature of a serpent, appears placidly composed, resigned to fate. As if stunned by the shear beauty of the tableau it inhabits the hare’s concession seems poignant, a willing partner seductively bound into complacency by a highly narrative, writhing design. A superficial ploy, the graphic storyline applied with dexterity introduces an intoxicating lure to which we fall prey. Referencing Aesop’s hare, Chinese ceramics, and Japanese tattoos the piece presents confused moral metaphors of entwined cultures, and a common conundrum: high craft as trap, from which there is no desire to escape.
American Tourister Still Life
Milwaukee Art Museum, 2014
Formed of fragile white porcelain, American Tourister Still Life by Elenor Wilson displays how luggage becomes furniture to a traveler. Speaking to the fleeting nature of style, the feet of the “furniture” and the lady’s high-heeled shoes, discarded nearby, underscore the transient nature of fashion. Trends flow through time and reappear, re-imagined. The feet of the furniture belong to the Victorian era, the heels and Coke bottle connect to mid-century and the luggage to the 1970’s in this object created in 2009. We form materials, but the materials we surround ourselves with have the ability to form us.