Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spin Me a Tale of Tea Time and Tampons

After closing down Ruby Green, with cups of wine to go, we followed Daniel on a walk through downtown Nashville to Tag Gallery where he opened up the place for us to experience the spectacle that is Vadis Turner.

(insert chocolate cake of tampons and pantie hose joke here)

The show (which best I can tell is self-titled) of works by artist Vadis Turner, a NYC artist originally from Nashville, was surprisingly detailed, deliberate, and extravagant in the best ways.

An exploding dinner party of Marie Antoinette proportions.

Everything from the cookies to the little candies were hand made of various craft materials and it wouldn't surprise me if an Easy-Bake-Oven was involved.

Bits of superficial dinner party conversation sewn into the gloves placed around the table

The attention to detail and amount of craft materials involved was staggering. How obsessive compulsive must this artist be? I am picturing a chaotic and highly entertaining studio that resembles Michaels the day after Thanksgiving.

There was a series of these assorted candies sculptures that were pretty amazing.

Sponges, hose, thread, more tampons, pushpins, yarn, cotton balls, lace.

A cupcake topped with broaches. It was really interesting to see this show after spending a day immersed in the art of three men dealing with gender at Ruby Green. Turner is also ruminating over gender signifiers but instead of breaking them down she is dowsing them in syrupy sweet.

Speaking of sweet, a dress carefully crafted of Domino sugar packets. The work was really popping off of walls stamped with an overpowering, obnoxiously ornate red floral pattern.

Exploding bobby pins.

Yes, that is a functioning chandelier of, you guessed it, tampons.

The show danced back and fourth between a light hearted celebration of all those dainty things surrounding women of Fitzgerald novels and an unsettling excess that was ripping apart the seams and threatening suffocation by colorful felt swatches and pearlescent beads.

By the time we exited the gallery I was in need of fresh air. Turner painstakingly recreated temporary delicacies (icing, candy, etc) using traditionally feminine craft materials and ten blocks away Trobaugh was showing a series of all-male snapshots recreated with "girl toys" and I had bound an ex-soldier in lace. Is Turner as troubled by the accessories of womanhood as much as we are troubled by the strict cultural definition of masculinity?

Or does Turner absolutely relish the decadence? Judging by her website there is no doubt she is obsessed with this art practice, with the craft process, reinterpreting mundane objects with an animated energy, but there is also a cynicism, dark humor, touch of anxiety.

Necklace and matching earrings made of birth control pills. These, along with the Faberge eggs, had to be some of my favorites in the show. Birth control pills? Woman's burden worn around the neck or isn't it fun to be a girl? Turner states. "In my work, I transform concepts and materials that are common to women's work into contemporary objects that represent how we spend our time and define our values."

Galaxies of smashed birth control pills

which I found oddly charming.

"All You Can Eat." This was Beth's favorite.

A quilt of fast food wrappers. In these modern times a family lineage of worn t-shirt or jean scraps has been replaced by the wrappers of Big Macs.

One member of our party, who will remain unnamed, and who is a recent graduate of the RISD textile design masters program - pointed out that if an artist is going to deal with textiles then they better do a more precise job of it - this piece apparently would have been ripped apart in critique. Then again, it is made of trash.

And a rhinestone encrusted dollhouse seemed to set the stage. Perhaps, in Turner's trippy world, this is the place where the dinner parties take flight and there are late night shows of wax paper lingerie.
Show up at Tag Gallery in Nashville TN until April 26th 2008. Check it out if you are able.


Anonymous said...

hee hee. what a meanie I am! In hindsight, I think that the context makes the craftmanship less of an issue (clearly these are not functional quilts), although there was one or two pieces where I felt distracted by how hastily it seemed to be put together. That being said, I loved this show- great ideas, and many of the works were quite sucessful.

Anonymous said...

were one or two pieces, I mean. oops.

Julia said...

Wow! Wow!
(insert a julia grumble here.)
If i wasn't so dead set on refusing to pay the price of gas right now, I'd scoot up to Nashville tomorrow! Looks like a great show.
I suppose if was really tough I could ride my bike. He he he.