Four colorful artists occupy the third floor gallery of Knight Arts grantee, artist-run Vox Populi in December. The mediums of the work range from paint and yarn to found objects, video projections and large installations making for a powerhouse of a show to ring out 2012 with.
Taylor Baldwin’s contribution “Distinterred” includes only three creations; however what he lacks in number he makes up for in sheer size. The clear show stealer here is Baldwin’s “The Interpreter,” a life-sized raft topped with a modeled human skeleton. The bony figure is fitted together with various resins and pieces of sculpted wood and appears to be more the passenger and less the pilot of this vessel. Adrift at sea, this figure could be an apt metaphor for the life of any thinker, interpreter or seeker of meaning. Across the space stands the tall “Campaigner,” a glowing, fluorescent tube in an old shotgun and brimming with branchlike hands which clutch the gun. It is, in many ways, prescient of our current legislative battles over gun control and also illuminates our perpetual tug-of-war politics in general.
Next door, Caroline Wells Chandler creates keepsakes which are montages of stuffed animals, fabric prints of rustic, woodland scenes, foam and breakfast cereal. These unlikely combinations culminate in an explosion of divergent parts that make for surreally nostalgic wholes. They are at once youthfully playful and monstrous – in a way too playful, if such a thing exists. In “L’ours,” Chandler tops some leopard and paw-print fabric with a scene of a bear catching salmon. This is all surrounded by pine needles, Teddy Grahams and Lucky Charms, to name a few. She also includes an Amanita muscaria (psychedelic mushroom) appliqué for good (trippy) measure. Elsewhere she stitches yarn into solemn and un-childlike forms such as the frumpy “Waiting” bear, which sits smiling in eternal anticipation and a plush interpretation of the Hindu god Kali.
In Derek Larson’s “Leveling the Genres” the artist creates repeating prints of cartoon characters with dangling necklace-like contraptions hanging from a would-be neck. He smatters the gallery with literary and pop-cultural references including (but not limited to) György Lukács, Garfield and Pokémon. In the center of the room, cut pieces of white board provide projection surfaces for moving images of paisley and Pikachu.
Another Chandler – Chandler Wigton – provides content much more abstract and less recognizable content than just about any other artist at Vox. His formal studies include solid blocks of color, explosions and bits of indecipherable, blown-apart text. He has one wall lined with 19 tiny experiments which weigh against his larger pieces such as the colorful “Apparent Motion” or the tall “The Serpentine Form of the Seraphim.” In the latter, black blocks stack precariously atop one another in a two-dimensional Jenga game which reaches, apparently, all the way to heaven (or at least a few angels).
All four artists provide forms and functions from the cobbled ocean of philosophy, to the cliché cross-stitching or rural America, to video games, broken words and formal design. It would be worth your while to see what Vox Populi has in store for the upcoming year.
Vox Populi is located at 319 N. 11th Street (third floor), Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org; voxpopuligallery.org.