Published: September 14, 2004
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will present three new exhibitions opening September 19 and running through January 5. All three will be featured at an opening reception on September 19 from 3 to 6 pm.
“Bottle: Contemporary Art and Vernacular Tradition” explores the use of the bottle in contemporary art making, and seeks to reveal how deeply rooted the bottle is as an archetypal cultural object.
Exhibition artists include Joseph Beuys, Dove Bradshaw, Bethany Bristow, Moyra Davey, Tony Feher, Howard Finster, Phil Frost, David Hammons, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Donald Lipski, Whitfield Lovell, Josiah McElheny, Barry McGee, Sean Mellyn, Olivia Parker, Maria Porges, Rosamond Purcell, Charles Ray, Alison Saar, Arlene Shechet, Claude Simard, Kiki Smith, William Wegman and Jil Weinstock. The exhibition will also include “whimsy” bottles from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York City.
The exhibition begins with a brief exploration of the bottle in art from popular sources. The selection of “whimsy” bottles will reflect the earlier European traditions of building objects, such as ships, inside glass containers. Other objects from popular culture presented as an introduction will include an original “Mrs Butterworth’s” syrup bottle from the 1970s, a Jean-Paul Gaultier “Madonna” perfume bottle from the early 1990s and a collection of Poire Williams brandy bottles.
The exhibition also examines the role of the “bottle tree” in Twentieth Century art and culture. Rooted in an early African belief that evil spirits can be captured in glass bottles, the bottle tree is a folk tradition once common in the rural South and in Caribbean communities.
The Aldrich will also feature solo exhibitions: “Shahzia Sikander: Nemesis,” featuring new digital work by the Pakistani artist, and “David Opdyke: 2004 Aldrich Emerging Artist Award Recipient,” new and recent work by the artist in the museum’s Leir Gallery.
“Nemesis” is a traveling exhibition in two parts, organized by Aldrich associate curator Jessica Hough in collaboration with curator Ian Berry of The Tank Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.
Born in the multicultural city of Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander grew up equally conversant with international pop culture and her country’s heritage of miniature painting, which originated as a court tradition for illustrating royal manuscripts. By Sikander’s day, cliché miniature images were “abundant as gift rdf_Descriptions everywhere, saturating the tourist market,” she recalls. “My initial feeling…was that it was kitsch, but I saw the potential of subversion.” Today, Sikander freely mingles Hindu and Muslim painting techniques with contemporary Western elements, from American painting and pop culture to images of war, supermodels and fairy tales. Sikander’s innovative blend of ancient and contemporary themes will be evident in the new works on view at The Aldrich.
A highlight of the exhibition will be the debut of an animation that the artist is producing. The animation will focus on landscape, an essential aspect of miniature painting that is traditionally secondary to the action or figures in the composition. The exhibition will also include a suite of 50 graphite drawings, titled “51 Ways of Looking.” These highly detailed line drawings are similar to sketches for miniature paintings.
Sikander will also create a site-specific wall installation on the museum’s new 16-square-foot “art wall” in the atrium. The installation will be a spontaneous reaction to the character of the space and the content of her new suite of drawings, which will be created on site over a period of ten days.
Opdyke, selected as the recipient of the Aldrich Emerging Artist Award for 2004 by the curatorial staff of the museum, will exhibit his work in a solo exhibition.
Born in 1969 in upstate New York, Opdyke received a BFA in painting and sculpture from the University of Cincinnati in 1992. Opdyke’s sculpture and multimedia works link criticism of US foreign and domestic policies with views on globalization and consumerism. Based upon his background as a painter and experience as an architectural model-maker, Opdyke’s meticulous eye and almost obsessive approach toward craftsmanship infuse his work with a utilitarian sensibility while pointing out the absurdities of American culture.
Included in this exhibition will be new work, including “Defense Development,” a milled and painted urethane foam sculpture depicting an aerial view of the Pentagon. Upon closer inspection, the building is made up of the complicated roof lines one might see when flying over a suburban landscape, positing questions about American excesses by depicting big government as suburban sprawl. Loaded with satire, the plywood geographical puzzle title “Unity” depicts the world as Opdyke thinks Americans see it, as a part of the United States. An untitled piece being constructed for the exhibition mimics the structure of a giant cruise ship rendered in rusted plumbing. Large and majestic, yet clearly decaying and ominous, Opdyke underscores the frivolity and wastefulness in such American pursuits.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is at 258 Main Street. For information, 203-438-4519.
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