Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kate Clark and Andrea Deszo at Newcomb

The humanoid animal sculptures by Kate Clark at Newcomb instantly instill a sense of wonder, but, is there more than mere novelty at work here? Entering the gallery is eerie; it is almost like a zoo where wild creatures with familiar human features cluster like family groups in a public lobby. Three antelope with faces like restless young guys gaze appraisingly around them even as two bears wear expressions like British anthropologists looking for lost tribe. A dazed zebra, top, suggests a fashion model who just downed a spiked drink, and some conspiratorial hyenas across the room look like they could be the culprits. By making their expressions more like ours, Clark blurs the boundaries between the human and animal realms and emphasizes our shared sentient sensibilities. Dog and cat lovers already know the depths of feeling their furry faces convey, but here Clark may also be taking us back to a time when people and animals were more alike, before we put them in concentration camps called factory farms and mechanically dismembered them into packaged food products. In this show, Clark reminds us of the extent to which animals are people too.

Our awareness of the primordial magic embodied in animals, forests and the heavens has long been dissipated by the distractions of technocratic urban life, but those sensibilities live on in ancient myths and folk art--including the dreamlike visions that inspired Andrea Dezso's shadow boxes, graphics and ceramics. Even her space aliens suggest mythic, folkloric beings, but for us her most emblematic and easily relatable works would probably have to be her oversize, back-lit shadow boxes inspired by her native Transylvania as well as an adjacent series of illustrations that Nola Carnival designer Carlotta Bonnecaze created for the 1892 Krewe of Proteus parade. Both series reflect the dreams, myths and psychic resonances of the wild world that have motivated artists since time immemorial. ~ Bookhardt / Mysterious Presence: Taxidermy Sculptures by Kate Clark; I Wonder: Ceramics and Works on Paper by Andrea Dezso, Through April 10, Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, 865-5328,