North Adams, MA
Here Comes the Sun is Colombian-born, Miami-based artist Federico Uribe’s magical, colorful, sculptural menagerie of animals. In tandem, as a taste of what’s in store for his massive October exhibition at MASS MoCA, Until, Chicago-based artist Nick Cave wraps the Kidspace ArtBar in a graphic Kaleidoscopic Playground, a participatory art-making lab inviting visitors to explore their senses, emotions, and self. Both artists shape-shift feelings of sorrow, rage, and despair into positive, immersive environments, with Kidspace becoming a vehicle for dialogue and exploration about the role of joy and optimism.
Optimism might not be the first quality to come to mind when viewing the every day materials that Federico Uribe repurposes for his animal sculptures. Colorful shotgun casings and golden varying caliber bullets are brought together to form a lion, for example; leather sneakers are arranged into a leaping puma, and an army helmet becomes a turtle’s shell. In an interview, Uribe underlines the irony inherent in his choice of materials: “People kill animals to make shoes; I make animals out of shoes.” One might then think that Uribe intends to alert viewers to the senseless killing of animals. But, instead, Uribe aims to use ordinary and sometimes provocative materials to challenge associations; the goal is against the grain and utopian—or, as he says, to “make people happy”—in spite of preconceived connotations.
Uribe fills roughly 2,000 square feet of space with his majestic animals to create an installation bursting with joy from the moment visitors enter the gallery. Optimism is apparent in Uribe’s mindset, and he expresses it visually as part of his artistic vocabulary, transforming objects from their original (often utilitarian or dangerous) purpose to create an environment that is boldly beautiful.
Ahead of his larger solo MASS MoCA exhibition Until (opening in October 2016), Nick Cave—building upon the optimism theme—will transform the interactive ArtBar area of Kidspace. Cave is best known for his wearable, sculptural Soundsuits that loosely mimic the bodies of both humans and animals, constructed of materials that include augmented twigs, beads, raffia, feathers, buttons, dyed human hair, and other lustrous materials. While Cave’s art often functions as a pointed commentary on current social issues, his playful, brightly colored works also offer an escape from the same challenges. For Kaleidoscopic Playground, Cave transforms Kidspace into the colorful, metaphorical belly of his acclaimed Soundsuit sculptures through the use of wallpaper of repeated Soundsuit-like graphics.
Visitors can flex their “optimism muscle” throughout the exhibition and further test it at the Kidspace ArtBar in various art-making activities for all ages, including repurposing objects to create new images and sculptures, playing a game-like drawing activity in which visitors are prompted to illustrate certain feelings, and making colorful puppets.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.