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Monday, May 20, 2013

Under the Skin?

WPCA explores the meaning of “Flesh”

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Think of flesh as skin that holds our working parts together. Now think of flesh as all manner of artful dermis: paper, glue, beads, metal, wood and computer printouts, to name a few. As conceived and assembled by four Wisconsin artists exhibiting in “Eternal Flesh” (through June 8 at the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts), it’s a major winner, and “major” is a word I don’t often use. The center’s PR/Marketing Coordinator, Mary Overman, installed the exhibition—and brilliantly so.

The work is assemblage sculpture, which essentially means materials assembled to produce, in this case, primarily figurative works, though Dan McGuire’s terrific pieces twist pre-conceived notions about figurative art. Laden with rusted and rotting found objects suggesting the passage of time, his wall-hung abstractions are massive, grim and beautifully crafted. Of the other four sculptors, Demitra Copoulos’ work is closest to pure figuration, but her satirical busts (is that Frank Ford?), and her gold-leaf body parts on pedestals poke fun at our quest for immortality. In effect, she gets under our skin. 

In his latest series, John Balsley explores the world of anthropomorphic robots intricately fleshed with aluminum skin. Friend or foe? Here to destroy or dust?

Kendall Polster, a blood research biologist who also welds, torches and grinds metal, and then assembles the parts into playful toy-like figures—albeit giant ones—holds forth in the bay window facing South Fifth Street. The rainy day I visited, a group of kids from a nearby school stood transfixed by what they saw on the other side of the expanse of glass.

Some advice
shed your skin before you stroll in. Leave all notions of “who you are” behind. Be advised that yes, flesh rots, but the best ideas live on, and at least some of those ideas live on at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts.