“Some Assembly Required,” a brilliantly curated exhibition by contemporary curator Craig Bloodgood, asks the question, “What do we do with our trash?” Eleven artists answer the question with sarcasm, humor, whimsy and innovative techniques. In a bold and visually-lively exhibit, the artists use almost every physical discard in our trash barrels and recycling bins in imaginative ways to create rockets, motorcycles, mannequins, tapestries and jewelry. All of the recycled and assemblage artworks require time-consuming techniques and hand-craft skills.
Red, white and blue plastic trash from every conceivable source is used by Tom Deininger to form a huge American flag. Made in the pre-President Trump year, 2015, “UnAmerican Flag” is a sarcastic metaphor for public patriotic virtue. Symbolic word messages, “Love it or Leave it, Blah” and “C0- 2” give us a clue about Deininger’s none too subtle message. The work is more disturbing because of blind-eyed faces, phallic noses and huge ears emerging out of the red plastic.
John McQueen’s willow-woven “Standing Man in the Round” is an equally powerful message. Using a technique deriving from basket weaving, McQueen creates a man with bowed head and paunch standing in a circular basket. But the man’s hands are lashed to the basket edge, unable to loosen himself. He seems to yearn to be free of some great psychic or physical burden. McQueen’s technique involves cutting willow twigs to short lengths and then tying them together. His “Dog” is made of hundreds of twigs densely bound together with great precision, but it lacks the powerful emotional punch of “Standing Man in the Round.”