Friday, February 15, 2008

Christy Rupp at Frederieke Taylor

Christy Rupp
"Carolina Parakeet, last seen in the wild, 1913"
Mixed media and fast food poultry bones
6 x 6 x 6 inches

Frederieke Taylor: Sometimes I appreciate a solo exhibition not because it succeeds wholly, but because the artist's intent is admirable. Christy Rupp's current outing at Frederieke Taylor, "Extinct Birds Previously Consumed by Humans (From the Brink of Extinction to the Supermarket)," is one such case.

The sculptures that comprise the exhibition's centerpiece and provide the title - skeletons of extinct bird species, including a dodo, moa and great auk, fabricated primarily from fast food chicken bones - are gimmicky in their one-liner cleverness. The life-size reconstructions are striking enough, and certainly well-crafted, but devoid of nuance. They are incisive totems to extinction and would make for vivid additions to a natural history display chronicling our species' impact on other animals, but edification, in an art gallery, is a weakness; lacking ambiguity, the sculptures are merely "neat" here.

Christy Rupp
"Zero Balance - Frog made from credit cards"
Mixed media and cut credit cards
10 x 10 x 3 inches

Although so much contemporary art is didactic in effect, few viewers have the stomach for second-hand instruction. We look at art principally to feel and discover, not to reconfirm or debate. Yet I can not reject Rupp's exhibition, which also includes an uneven series of collages and five wall-mounted, mixed media sculptures.

Rupp is engaged with activism, and has been for almost forty years. Even her statement is coded for our sloganeered age: "putting the stain back in sustainability since the 1970s." She aims to "make people confront their anxiety and create dialogue," and this is a worthy goal. The works may not resonate individually, but Rupp's engagament with this important subject matter is appreciable, and I would be pleased to see her sculptures and collages pictured in Orion or Harper's, alongside relevant essays.

The question remains, though: how does an artist of Rupp's ilk address the gallery context? I'm afraid there is no easy answer. Her work may be best delivered (and absorbed) in conjunction with the ideas that compel her; I see nothing wrong with that approach. I do wish, however, that there were more outlets for such alliance.

Christy Rupp
"Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Arkansas, believed extinct but in dispute"
Mixed media and fast food poultry bones
14 x 8 x 11 inches

Photo credit: images ripped from Rupp's website


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Interesting Artwork.

bioephemera said...

How much do I love you for finding these? Blogging them tomorrow. . .