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Shapes and animals at Tiger and Grizzly


When Anne Schaefer creates art, she wants to immerse the viewer in a particular visual environment. Because of this, her work is usually large-scale. One challenge she encountered in planning her current show at the Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery was tailoring her vision to the gallery’s small dimensions.

The wrap-around installation In Step, by Anne Schaefer, covered the door, too.

Her solution was simple–and striking. Instead of mounting several individual pieces, Schaefer created In Step, an installation of painted vinyl panels that wrap around all four walls of the gallery. To ensure that nothing would distract the viewer from In Step‘s visual atmosphere, Schaefer sunk the gallery’s fourteen foot ceiling of to eight feet and painted the inside of door. Once the door is shut, the sensation of being encased in a work of art is complete.

Anne Schaefer, In Step installation, painted vinyl, at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Schaefer views In Step as an exploration of limitless variation that can be created on a grid. The result is a vibrantly colored pattern of squares and stripes. As I walked around the gallery, I realized that Schaefer’s grid experimentation continues on a smaller scale. Some individual squares are divided into two or four triangles, each of which has been coated with a different finish. The full effect of In Step is powerful, but the artwork also fulfills its premise at close range.

Visitors to Colleen Rudolf‘s exhibit “CON · NECT [KUH · NEKT]” at the Grizzly Grizzly Gallery might feel as though they’ve stepped into a Please Touch Museum for the thinking adult. Rudolf is both perceptive and playful in contrasting animals’ straightforward and instinctual manner of relating to each other with humans’ inability to give our full attention to any single interaction. Rudolf believes that humans’ lack of focus is a recent development, due to the barrage of technological communication to which we are increasingly exposed.

Colleen Rudolf’s Inguinal Sniff at GrizzlyGrizzly

The theme of Rudolf’s exhibit is illustrated most clearly in a series of three works on pedestals. On one pedestal is A Moment, a delicately wrought sculpture of two penguins facing each other. On the pedestal on the opposite end is Cellular Phones, two cell phones standing so close together that they, too, seem to be huddled in intimacy.

Colleen Rudolf, A Moment (front), and Cellular Phones on the back pedestal

All of the show’s interactive works require two participants, and therefore facilitate the direct interaction Rudolf admires. My favorite of the interactive pieces, Elephant Feet, gives participants a chance to literally step inside an animal’s “shoes.” While one person steps up and down while wearing a pair of rubber-and-Styrofoam elephant boots, the person wearing the other pair feels vibrations on the soles of their feet. This mimics an actual method of communication among elephants based on seismic vibration.

Colleen Rudolf, Elephant Feet in action

In a final allusion to humans’ reliance on multiple forms of communication, Rudolf has provided laminated sheets of instructions at the gallery’s entrance. While some of the instructions are helpful, most are tongue-in-cheek. Take, for example, the diagrams explaining that one should look at the sculptures rather than swatting them off their pedestals. Rudolf’s point is clear: Are we so unused to direct, intuitive interaction that we need a set of instructions to understand works of art?

Becca Kantor was born in Philadelphia and received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania. Her short stories have appeared in Peregrine and Labrys magazines, and she is a regular contributor to A Sweet Life, an online magazine for diabetics.