Thursday, December 22, 2016

Enthralling Eggsactitudes

Enthralling Eggsactitudes

By Tom Wachunas

   “…Working in all artistic media from oil, acrylic and watercolor paints to encaustic, fiber, and ceramics, from printmaking, photography, and pen & ink, to sculpture, light works and sculpture, the artists transform ostrich eggs into works of great beauty that refer to traditions in high art—the Imperial Easter eggs crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé—and to folk traditions as well—beeswax-decorated Ukrainian pysanaky eggs….”

   Full background, photos, and curator’s statement at:

   EXHIBIT:  Art 360°: Contemporary Art Hatching Across Ohio, Curated by Charles Bluestone/ at Massillon Museum, Second Floor Gallery/ THROUGH  FEBRUARY 12, 2017 / 121 Lincoln Way East, downtown Massillon / 330-833-4061 /   44 contemporary artists from across Ohio have embraced the challenge of embellishing ostrich eggs; they have come together in a wide variety of forms to demonstrate the creativity of the arts community.

   “The world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities.”  - George Eliot

   Entering this beautifully mounted exhibit on the second floor of Massillon Museum is to enter a world of ovoid oddities, a world of curiouser and curiouser orbs. Eggs, to be exact. Ostrich eggs, to be exacter.

   These alluring objects are a universe apart from, say, typical decorated Easter eggs, which are essentially a Christian adaptation of much more ancient craft traditions – from diverse cultures - associating eggs with fertility and the renewal of life.  

    Generally we think of an egg as a vessel containing the essential stuff allowing for a particular life form to eventually emerge from the protective, nurturing shell.  And indeed, forms do emerge from the eggs in this exhibit, though certainly not in the same way that we predict and expect a specific bird’s egg to produce a specific bird. I’m reminded that long before the idea of biological evolution became part of our world view, ancient philosophers such as Aristotle posed a causality dilemma when they mused, “which came first, the bird or the egg?” So let’s just suppose for a moment that in this context, the finished artworks are the birds, so to speak. One could then perhaps view this exhibit as a delightfully playful metaphor for creativity itself, whimsically resolving the aforementioned dilemma. So which came first? Why, the egg of course - that ovoid vessel with the essential stuff to birth a finished form.

   For each artist in this exhibit, surely it was the physical form of the egg - a pre-existing “found object” of sorts - that initially nurtured (inspired) a creative process giving rise to, or hatching, the birds we now behold. And unlike real ostriches, these birds really do fly into all manner of realms. Some are familiar and friendly, some strange, magical, or mystifying, but all of them are enthralling. 
   Collectively, these beguiling sculptures are a dazzling display of remarkably fecund imaginations, realized with unimpeachable artisanship. And as objets d’dart, they’re no less treasurable than jeweled Fabergés.

   PHOTOS, from top: All photos   ©Feinknopf Photography, 2016.
1.   The Leap of Life, digital sculpting, 3-D printing, acrylic paint, by Josh Sutton / 2. Day and Night, inks, lacquer, clay, by Cathie Bleck / 3. Acqua Alta (Venice), oil paint and silver, by Marianna Smith / 4. Get Your Head Out of the Sand, spray paint and found objects, by Rondle West / 5. Living Off the Land, encaustic, by Christopher Rankin / 6. Marko Pollo, acrylic paint, silver foil, glitter, by Amy Kollar  Anderson

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