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Indepth Arts News:

"American Gothic, Saturady Night/Sunday Morning AND Homo Domesticus"
2001-08-03 until 2001-09-23
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Minneapolis, MN, USA

Two separate exhibitions by two Minnesota artists whose work is related through the power of their quasi-theatrical narrative opened August 3,2001, at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Chris Larson and Melissa Stang are driven and prolific artists who, while different in many ways, strive to find resolution to the paradoxes of life.

Chris Larson is a sculptor and filmmaker whose pragmatic approach to life and to making art is infused with a brilliant imagination. He creates artifacts inspired by his rural Minnesota upbringing that combine machinery , architecture, and folk art. In the last decade. Larson has produced enormous, oversized, stationary wooden machines that nevertheless imply movement and function. Larson s most recent work is fully operational. A shift that may be attributed to his belief in the extension of energy through a formal visual vocabulary.

American Gothic {Saturday/Sunday Morning) is Larsons second film project. With director Jason Spafford and sound designer Alex Oana, Larson again utilizes his sculpture as a theatrical set. As executive producer, actor, set and prop designer, and builder, Larson uses the poetic themes of Americana and vaudeville to extend his inquiry into metamorphosis and paradox. Just like the country-and-western singer who plays drinking songs on Saturday night and sings Gospel on Sunday morning, Larson reconciles the dark with the light.

Melissa Stang creates complex, drawing-based installations that broker three-dimensional ideas. She plays with the relationship between site and installed artwork while exploring the tension between object and the image drawn or painted on its surface. Stang said of her process I treat im.ages as sculptural elements and search for sites to draw upon, I draw on anything that crosses my path and enjoy drawing on ready-made consumer objects that either reinforce or blatantly contradict the sources of my imagery. Stang creates complex amalgamations of images and objects with an exquisite linear precision and sensitivity. In Homo domesticus, Stang presents two new works. The first, entitled From the ReaL Life Drawing Co-on: Still Life with Domesti is a monumental, irregularly shaped painting that seeks to reconcile the often unattainable cultural expectations she experiences as a female artist. The painting incorporates cartoon-styled images trom her own life and includes many personal details.

The second part of Stangs exhibit, Period Room for a Moist Temnerate Environment (Or, A Natural History Guide for Interior Decorators), depicts the domestic interior of a female herpetologists house crammed with period furniture and assorted crafts as well as lizards and amphibians. Through this work Stang challenges the formality of museum presentations and ideas of high and low art.

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