Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and DesignExhibition | David Revere McFadden By Stephen Cedars
An esoteric exhibit with works of varying strangeness.
The Museum of Art and Design is no stranger to exhibits of esoteric themes, and its current show Swept Away, which features art that uses dust, ash, dirt or sand as primary materials, is hardly an exception. The curatorial mission statement promises a profound experience contemplating how our world's transient detritus can be re-appropriated and celebrated in art. The best of the exhibit delivers on the promise: highlights include Jim Dingilian's bottles painted with candle smoke, a sculpture of man and wolf constructed of dirt, and Julie Parker's quilt fashioned from dryer lint. But too much of the work is mired in a conceptual framework, emphasized by placards providing each artist's detailed intentions. It's certainly interesting information, but it removes the focus from the eccentricity of these everyday materials in favor of aesthetic philosophy, which is of course anything but everyday. The videos add a welcome multi-media element, though they too sometimes distract from a show whose strength lies in its folksy hodge-podge quality. For such a bizarre idea, there's a surprising lack of quirk here, though as usually is the case with this museum's exhibits, it's not something you should expect to see anywhere else.
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