The Rice Gallery will inaugurate its Summer Window series with Pastor and Collux, an original site-specific installation by artist James Cullinane. The Summer Window series was conceived to allow visitors to experience an exhibition through the gallery's glass facade.
James Cullinane creates large-scale drawings by hand-sticking tens of thousands of aluminum pushpins into the wall. When viewed from a distance, the pins form highly-textured, larger-than-life-size illustrations of model children playing simple outdoor games. Reminiscent of a seemingly more innocent time, the images are beautiful as well as evocative.
Cullinane's drawings are taken from an elementary school primer he discovered in a used bookstore in Bilbao, Spain. The book includes illustrations of fit and healthy children, the ideal prescribed by General Francisco Franco's Falangista Party. They happen to be images of childhood that support a fascist agenda of 'clean and healthy bodies and minds,' but they could just as well be the Boy Scouts of America, says Cullinane. Like imagery from Greek mythology to contemporary advertising, they are attractive, but loaded with subtle and ambiguous meanings.
Cullinane changes the scale and material of these school book illustrations to create a different tone or presence. It becomes a menacing and beautiful presence that changes the scale of these book images to a 16ft. high architectonic wall relief of nails, says Cullinane. To give the images added dimension as well as a sense of monumentality, Cullinane tried projecting the images from the book onto the wall of his studio. Eventually, he stumbled upon the idea of inserting pushpins into the wall to transform the intimate space of the children's book illustrations into large-scale public works. Cullinane thinks of the projects as minimalist sculptures in which the pins give the images dimension, shadows and textures without betraying their original outline format.
Pastor and Collux draws on a mythological reference, the inversion of the first letters in the names of Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda who were transformed into the Gemini constellation. By applying the mythological names to a 1940s image and recreating it as a 16-foot high wall relief, Cullinane addresses how images can be transformed through context to convey different meanings.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
James Cullinane received a BFA from The Cooper Union School for the Advancement of Art and Science in 1979. He traveled to Spain on a Ford Travel scholarship in 1978 and returned again in 1999 while working as an assistant to Richard Serra. He has exhibited at numerous venues including University Art Museum at SUNY Albany, Kohler Art Center, Pierogi 2000 and The Brooklyn Museum. He lives and works in New York.