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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Exhibit explores planes of normality

A group of rising Phoenix-area artists have come together in
a new Memorial Union exhibition, bound by their common objective to reflect the
many facets of what it means to be normal. Their show, called Desire for
Normality, will run until March 11 in the Porter Butts Gallery.

One of the seven artists, Nick DeFord, has a simple yet
intriguing piece in the exhibit, titled ?Normal, Illinois.? For this work,
DeFord covered a map of Illinois with small, multicolored arrows, all pointing
to a city near the state?s center: Normal. Using a real topographical location
in an abstract way, the artist implies that ?normal? is everyone?s goal.

Tackling another angle, Kjellgren Alkire?s ?Holy Humidity?
defines normal through a Honeywell humidifier filled with what the artist calls
?holy,? perhaps blessed, water. Though it is a purchased electronic device,
rather than something crafted by the artist, in the context of the Normality exhibit,
this mixed media work makes a statement about the ways in which we regulate our
environment and the ways in which we make it as normal ? in this case by making
it as comfortable ? as possible.


Across the room from the humidifier is a piece by R. Eric
McMaster, ?Line.? Comprised of 96 blue people made of urethane plastic, these
unadorned figures resemble the men and women on restroom signs. At first
glance, the tiny sculptures seem to be standing in perfectly squared lines,
looking rigid and uniform. Upon further examination, however, one figure is
found missing a head and three others are actually toppled over. ?Line,? like
all the pieces in Normality, is left open for interpretation. McMaster seems to
be communicating the monotonous categories that people might be placed in with
no room for individuality, conveyed by the straight rows of identical people.

Some of the Normality pieces are bizarre, and sometimes they
do not noticeably fit into the theme of normality. One such artwork, a set of
three hanging gourds is simply more odd than profound.

Another piece, by Marco Rosichelli, is constructed from
playground equipment, something that children might ride on. Rosichelli
decidedly mixes things up a bit, diverging from the normal horse-shape by
making it pink and forming it like a fetus, thus making the work a welcome
deviation from what is predictable.

Likewise, ?American Proverb? is a striking sculpture by
Joshua Almond. It is made of worn wood in the crude shape of a person next to a
wheel with a handle to turn it. It appears that the person should be turning
the wheel, but instead his arms are at his side, and his head is resting on the
wheel. Perhaps the figure is tired of attempting to fit in with the norm, or
perhaps he is simply physically exhausted.

Overall, Normality offers viewers countless interpretations
of what is considered normal, and exposes the challenge in defining the
seemingly straightforward idea of being ?normal.?

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