Art Review: With Luck, Iconoclasts Find Their Mediums

Published: February 19, 2006
New York Times, Arts and Entertainment

‘Between Body and Object’
Anthony Giordano Gallery, Dowling College, Idle Hour Boulevard, Oakdale, (631) 244-3016. Through March.

The four artists in this provocative theme show make hybrids of human and inanimate forms that blur the boundaries between them.

Bodies and objects interact directly in Jennifer Mazza’s disturbing small paintings of meticulously rendered anatomical details. A jelly doughnut squashed in a fist takes on visceral overtones, and long white opera gloves seem to strangle the arms they encase.

In contrast, Miriam Bloom’s sculptures allude obliquely to the human figure. Instead of making recognizable bodies, she opts for a generalized biomorphism that might be animal or vegetable but is in most cases mineral. In ”Wuz Up V,” an earthenware vessel seems to prick up its ears, and in ”Subaba,” a couple of ceramic blobs mirror one another like half-formed twins.

Margaret Murphy’s ”Sweet 16” paintings depict kitschy china statuettes, enlarged to nearly life size, of young women decked out like prom queens in elaborate dresses. Their faces are hidden, further distancing them from the reality of adolescence. The figurines are literally objects, and the teenagers they represent are objectified by the stereotyped roles they adopt.

Colorful Mexican toys play out their own scenarios in Barbara Rachko’s large pastels. Her surreal tableaus use dramatic lighting to heighten the feeling of expectancy and emotional tension. Like puppets or diorama figures, the dolls act as human surrogates, with animal companions that serve as witnesses and potential participants in the impending confrontations.