Thursday, April 4, 2019

Bonnie Collura’s Prince at Smack Mellon

Bonnie Collura’s Prince at Smack Mellon showed sculptures throughout the gallery space, hung from the ceiling and on the ground. The sculptures are made of colorful, often soft or organic materials such as quilts, that are then shaped into figurative forms. Many of the pieces incorporate mannequin-like casts, taking the forms of male characters such as Jesus, St. Sebastian, C3PO, or Abraham Lincoln. Collura flips the classic relationship of male artist and female model, and I found her choice in material to be spot on for this. While we envision much of art history’s sculptural representations of women as idealized bodies constructed by male artists out of hard materials such as marble, Collura uses historically feminine modes of creating, often pigeonholed as 'craft,' such as quilting and embroidery. In the works that incorporate harder materials, it also seems that there is some type of role-reversal at play. For example, in Golden Droid/Scout/C3PO she uses wood- an organic material- to construct the metal droid, whereas in Matriarch/Heavy Metal/Jesus she constructs Jesus, who is more commonly carved from wood, out of metal. Religious and political figures like Jesus, St Sebastian, and Abraham all gender-bend in multiple ways: through their hats, skirts, titles, and/or gestures. Each figure's structure and title both seem to be in a state of motion or evolution, or even construction, which prompts the viewer to think about the representations of these characters throughout history.

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