Shows that feature Minnesota–based artists reassure me. It’s good to know that so many creative minds walk among us, especially in the thrall of winter, when any ounce of life seems to have drained away. The Minnesota Museum of American Art’s juried show of three-dimensional work by Minnesota artists satisfies the deep need for color, texture, and even energy (given that several of the pieces actually move).
Anastasia Ward’s ”Mole,” “Wolf,” and “Knob,” (this last a cross between a sloth and a pterodactyl), are both whimsical and unnerving. Something like stuffed animal Frankensteins, her work evokes sympathy and maybe even nostalgia while also striking a dissonant chord. Cuddly, off-putting, or both—you decide.
“Networked Bamboo,” by David Bowen, might be just as at home at a science fair as in an art gallery. The piece is described as “kinetic, interactive, robotic and sculptural,” and features a half-dozen hydroponic pods radiating out from a central hub, connected by wires. Each pod houses a single bamboo shoot, its leaves sprouting from its plastic enclosure. Here’s where the kinetic part comes in: The plants react to photo resistors, picking up sources of light around the gallery and wobbling around as the source of light shifts. It could be a metaphor for our modern fusing of technology and biology, but whatever the intention, it’s just plain fun to look at!
It’s impossible to ignore Jack Pavlick’s “6 Bands,” an incredible moving metal contraption. Powered by an old-fashioned system of mechanical cranks, the six bands of metal after which the piece is named sway rhythmically, creating criss-crossing waves when viewed from the front. Mesmerizing.
Contrast that with Seho Park’s “Work 1,” a tiny paper sculpture held together by a few staples (a mutant form of origami, perhaps?) and you get an idea of the variety in scale and materials. David Hamlow works on a variety of scales, but like Park’s paper sculpture, it’s one of his small creations that attracted my eye. Hamlow crafted a structure out of playing cards featuring parts of receipts from past purchases; an ode to personal consumption. He calls each piece “a self-portrait” and an “act of penance for having consumed unhealthy things.” A house of cards fits that paradigm well while bringing to mind the less self-conscious pursuits of children everywhere—to play, to explore what’s possible given the limitations, to create.
Minnesota Biennial 3D II runs through Februart 3, mmaa.org