Friday, March 18, 2011
Art review: Paperclip Safari at the Mercantile Coffee House
It is amazing that the artist took a medium as mundane as paperclips and transformed it into art that feels substantial.
DALLAS Laughter and animated conversation filled Mercantile Coffee House in Dallas and overflowed into the busy downtown street. On Thursday, the coffee shop hosted the opening reception of Irving artist Sasha Garza’s exhibit Paperclip Safari, sponsored by the McKinney Avenue Contemporary (MAC). Paperclip Safari is comprised of nine gelatin silver prints of paperclip animal figurines.
Hanging on walls above booths and tables were Garza’s finely executed, 16”x20” prints. Some shots were impressionistic, others completely abstract, but all were various views of Garza’s self-styled, paperclip animals. “I have three views of each of the specimens,” she explained. “Some of them are feet first, some of them are head first, and some of them are straight on. It makes it interesting.” Judging by attendees' responses, they seemed to agree. The various views of each specimen were not hung together, but interspersed throughout the coffee shop. Many viewers enjoyed figuring out which views were of the same specimens.
Sculpting animals out of paperclips was not Garza’s initial intention. “It was actually a dare,” she said. “I was at work and had extra time, so I started bending paperclips and making balls. One of them looked kind of like a head. Then these guys came by and one said, 'I bet you can’t build a rhino.' I bet I could, and I built a rhino.” (See it pictured above.)
Once Garza completed her paperclip sculptures, she wanted to do more with them. “I tried taking regular photos, but that really flattened them. So, I thought that maybe if tried to photograph the shadow that would really change things. That worked really well,” she said.
Each piece is intriguing, drawing the viewer in through skillful use of balance, rhythm, light, and shadow. Garza’s fascinating and unique treatment of the paperclips, through her intricate figures and the repetitive lines she created, draws the eye through the pieces. Rendering of the animal figurines in silver gelatin prints creates haunting, ethereal images with great depth. Sharp focus on small elements of the figure in the foreground is enhanced by the foggy, atmospheric quality of the background. The overall effect transports viewers into another world.
This is Garza’s first solo exhibition and second show with the MAC. Her style is fresh, her pieces captivating, and her work not to be missed.
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