Unsettled and unsettling at the UDel Gallery at the Crane

According to the curators of The Unsettled, a 15-person theme show at University of Delaware’s Crane Arts’ gallery, the exhibit explores “notions of duality, hybridism, and transformation.” Patrick Koziol and Michael Merry, two second-year MFA students at the University of Delaware, admit this premise is broad, but their show introduces you to a lot of interesting works.

Patrick Koziol, “Protrusions”, 2010-2011, latex on board, 25” x 25” x 6”

Latex extrusions appear to break through the painted support of Patrick Koziol’s “Protrusions.” In addition to these weird, tongue-like forms, the artist has also covered the back of the painted board in pink latex, casting a pink reflection on the wall behind. When viewed from an angle, this reflection gives the illusion that the latex is not only piercing through the support, but also emerging out of the wall. The work’s oozing goo comically suggests the threat of a B-movie horror film and embodies the show’s theme of unsettling perceptions.

Terri Saulin “Drown & Drain”, 2011, porcelain, lusters, 16” x 12” x 10”

Also unsettling, “Drown & Drain” by Terri Saulin reflects the artist’s interest in biological structures and brings to mind genetic modification. In the porcelain sculpture, body parts of an infant are detached from the torso and reconnected to forms that resemble coral. The infant becomes a hybrid creature, but the organic similarities of the forms makes the combination more harmonious than grotesque.

Erica Eyres Still from “Cuddle Group”

Erica Eyres’ video projections comment on cultural attitudes towards sexuality and gender by adopting and then parodying the style of television and film. Eyres uses a faux-documentary style in the satirical “Cuddle Group,” which includes interviews with women who joined a touch-based therapy group in hopes of overcoming their fear of intimacy. The interviews share the slow pacing of the documentary format, but they are not humorous enough, and the scenes drag. The most successful portions of the video come from Dr. Gerry Winecott, the mastermind of “Cuddle Group”, who allows Eyres’ interest in bizarre narratives to come through. Dr. Winecott’s role is that of an evangelical salesman, extolling the value of his treatment and recalling his personal epiphany to form Cuddle Group. The video’s most humorous and uncomfortable moment comes when Winecott demonstrates his therapy by laying on top of a woman, his heavy breathing audible through his microphone.

Erica Eyres, Still from “Destiny Green”

Eyres’ video, “Destiny Green,” tells the fictitious story of a beauty pageant queen who later has her face surgically removed. The beauty pageant seems like too easy a target, and even more than “Cuddle Group,” “Destiny Green” suffers from slow pacing without delivering humor or new insight.

Erica Eyres Still from “Me & Pug-a-Poo”

In “Me & Pug-a-Poo,” the artist takes on the role of children’s show host and along with her sidekick, a fur-costumed dog, uses the word of the day, “disgusting,” to broach the topic of STDs. The word sex never comes up in their discussion because to the characters STDs are not sexually transmitted diseases but So Totally Disgusting. And the graphic images of sexually transmitted diseases live up to that new acronym. By using the children’s show format, Eyres is able to criticize approaches to sexual education that resort to scare tactics and do not provide accurate and useful information, thus leaving students with a naive understanding of sex.

Troy Richards “Family Jams”, 2007, Digital Print, 34”x50”

Also in the faux documentary mode, Troy Richards’ digital print, “Family Jams,” displays two figures struggling in the center of a meth lab. The title and chaotic scene imply a dysfunctional partnership, and the vast amounts of Sudafed and Morton’s Salt suggest a homegrown operation that is comically tragic.

“Dead Simon”, oil on canvas print, 20”x30”

Another, weirder transformation in Adam Parker Smith’s “Dead Simon” includes dabs of black paint that resemble feasting maggots applied to a photograph of a cat. Although the title indicates Simon is dead, the cat in the photo appears alive. The photograph alone does not tell the truth. And with the addition of the dabs of paint is it clearer that the cat has died. The work reveals a larger, cultural fascination with death and memorial photos for dead loved ones.

Elaine Quave “Promethean Ambitions Version II”, 2011, Stancill’s quarry clay, plastic, porcelain, mixed

Elaine Quave’s installation  “Promethean Ambitions Version II” involves a clay topographical landscape in a vessel surrounded by  unfired clay that gives the  appearance that the land masses are eroding. Plastic bags filled with fired and unfired pieces of quarry clay sit next to the vessel, revealing the artist’s process and our distance from the clay’s original source, the quarry. The work’s title also reflects a desire to be like the mythical Greek and have a part in creation.

Other artists in The Unsettled include Susan Camp, Alex Fogt, Brandon Jones, Michael Merry, Cindy Stockton Moore, Josh Nobiling, Andrew Prayzner, Jacob Smiley, and Lindsay Wraga. A Second Thursday reception will be held on November 10 from 6 – 9 pm, and the exhibition is on view until November 27.