It just doesn’t seem right that I forgot to tell you about the best art exhibition I’ve seen in a long time. I’m only telling you now that it’s closed and you can’t go. I’m only telling you now because I randomly found photo of it. It just isn’t fair. It’s almost mean.
So it turns out there’s this craft called lace draping, where you take figurines—you know, like cute girls with baskets of flowers—and drape them with lace. The lace has been saturated in liquid porcelain and then you fire the whole thing in a kiln so the lace burns off and you’re left with what looks like delicate lace but is actually solid porcelain. So you might give a girl a lace dress or shawl or something. The effect is very fussy and dainty.
This local woman named Sharry Boyle had a small exhibition at the Power Plant this spring. Lulu and I went after work on the free day (Wednesdays, Chickets). (We actually went to see the marquee exhibition, The Welfare Show, which I could also highly recommend in retrospect, but that’s another overdue story. I will tell you that the first installation in this show consisted of a hallway-like room with lots of doors that don’t open. Most people are probably smart enough to understand that they’re fake doors and to deduce that the whole point is that they go nowhere, that the world is inaccessible to lots of people and so on. Lulu and I were not smart enough and so we spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to open the doors and going, OMG, is this all there is? We then went and asked Mean Art Girl behind the front desk and she snootily told us that that was only the first installation and sniffed as she pointed in the other direction, where the rest of the exhibition was behind a corner. Then we went around the corner and there was a fake dead body on a hospital gurney that looked so real that we started screaming and then laughing. Whatever.)
So tacked onto the end of the big show are a couple little glass cases of these lace draped figurines. They’re all perfect little Victorian girls with flouncy dresses and bonnets, except soon you begin to notice there’s something slightly wrong with them. One of them is all bruised, big purple botches all over her white skin. And then, OMG, it gets worse/better. Some of the girls are missing limbs and have only bloody stumps. One of them is holding her own decapitated head.
It’s thoroughly satisfying, I think, because it’s such an unlikely juxtaposition: such dainty perfect girls made with such painstaking and careful technique, yet they’re such a collection of gory morbidity. Kind of like taking a thematic interpretation of whatever you decide you want the “topic” to be—the feminine ideal, Victorian repression, beauty—and making it literal. Lovely. I’d like Mean Art Girl at the front desk to think of something so bitchin’.