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Indepth Arts News:

"Cerca Series: Helen Altman"
2002-12-12 until 2003-02-16
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (MCASD)
San Diego, CA, USA United States of America

MCASD's third Cerca Series exhibition showcases the playful installation, painting, and sculpture of artist Helen Altman. Exploring notions of reality versus artificiality in everyday life, Altman captures images of nature in unnatural ways, expressing such universal ideas permanence, transcience, protection, vulnerability, nurturing, and sacrifice. For this exhibition, the Museum has commissioned Altman to create Ark (freestanding), an 11-foot tower of over 100 glowing electric fire logs. With its mock flames and simulated crackling of burning wood, the work speaks to society's need to manufacture "nature" and our nostalgia for simple comforts.

Four works from Altman's latest series of moving blankets demonstrate her ability to capture the vulnerability of common creatures in larger-than-life reproductions of isolated animals. Altman's thermal-painted canvases sewn into moving blankets use found images of natural subjects- chickens, rabbits, cows, and dogs- in ways that highlight their distance from nature. Layers of artificial materials, such as synthetic fabrics and inks, false colors, and digitally reproduced imagery, combine to communicate the human compulsion to imitate nature.

This exhibition also includes an installation of Altman's wire bird sculptures. For these works, the artist drew inspiration from the wild birds that inhabit her yard, weaving wire of different gauges into bird forms easily identifiable by species that mimic movements and personalities of actual birds. The sculptures often contain assorted objects related to the species of bird, or nesting materials used in both bird and human home building. Altman's MCASD exhibition, organized by Assistant Curator Stephanie Hanor, is her first solo presentation on the West Coast.

This exhibition is made possible by a gift from Gus and Terri Colachis. Additional support for the Cerca Series comes from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

Helen Altman
Rabbit, 2002
Thermal Transfer on Canvas, 72 x 101.5 inches,
Courtesy the Artist; Moody Gallert, Houston; and Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas.

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