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Youthful exuberance rewarded

Sorry, but my computer was in pieces until a few minutes ago. And I’m not confident yet that it will serve me. It feels like it’s struggling (I put in a new cd burner and it’s making a lot of noise and I haven’t yet tested it because I wanted to post some things first.)

After looking at a bunch of academic figure studies, the University of the Arts Crafts Senior Exhibit at Nexus was downright refreshing.

First I fell for a spring-green set of crocheted booties and hat and video, “Brooklyn’s Dream: Pretty Pretty Pitbull” by Megan Frattare. The clothes were for a pitbull. The video was of the pitbull frolicking, sometimes dressed, sometimes bare. With the little cap on, the dog looked like one of Bo-Peep’s sheep. This piece is the art equivalent of a David Letterman Show Silly Dog Trick. Who knew a pitbull could be such a sweetie! Pretty pretty original and goofy (top image, the outfit, and right, a video still of the little bo-pitbull).

Then I spied a line-up of cast concrete television facades on the floor, some big, some small (no plasma screens or other supersized wonders), some tinted. “Mute,” by Lydia Sydney Shatkin was fulfilling a fantasy for me. And in concrete, no less. Let’s sink the lot of them in the Schuylkill and get real lives (left, the silent screens).

Close by were Nicholas Lenker’s clay sculptures of holiday spirits. Lenker, according to his statement, was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, so ordinary holidays were forbidden–and mysterious–to him. Here’s “The Birth of Easter” (right), an imagining of how such a holiday could come to be, and also an imagining of wildness and fertility. He also had some armless gryphon-headed “people” in stripes called “April Fools.” All his pieces had a Medieval affect, sort of like court jesters and celebrations gone wild–religion mixed with pagan rituals.
And Elaine Quave’s “Analyzation Process” (left), inspired by watching as someone died, is a sort of contour map of what it means to be alive–and not. The skin tones and skin patterns coat what are essentially small blocks of clay of varying heights, arrayed like the buildings of a city in model scale. But the prone figure looks to be about the real size of a real person. I was reminded of Tim Hawkinson’s and Antony Gormly’s taking their own measure in stratified sculptures, but the intent here seems to go to the magic and scariness of what it means to be alive.

The show also included the work of 36 students, and besides sculpture, there was plenty of crafts–some swell jewelry, dresses, pottery and other well things.


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