Otis College of Art + Design has unveiled a new exhibit that appeals to kids, adults, and those lingering somewhere in between the two designations.
From the Island of Misfit Toys, an exhibit of mostly sculptural fine art works inspired by previously existing toys, opened with a reception attended by about 600 people on Friday, February 10th, according to Otis College of Art + Design.
The multi-artist exhibit will remain until Saturday, April 15th, at Otis College of Art + Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester. Admission is free.
The toy-related collection of artworks is not simply child’s play. Instead, many of the offbeat alterations make social commentaries and some are made up of elaborate, intricate and delicate parts unbefitting an actual toy.
Linton says she looked for works that made a statement and/or were incredibly well-crafted, rather than for the works’ appeal to children.
Jonathan Callan’s works take a stab at corporate and fast food culture and feature altered Disney characters and McDonald’s icons, some of them unstuffed and refilled with caulking that oozes out through the fabric.
The exhibit’s name, From the Island of Misfit Toys, is indicative of the works included in the show, as the name was taken from the 1964 children’s film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where the term was applied to orphaned and out-of-place toys that nobody wanted.
“These are not works that are meant for kids to sit there and play with,” says Meg Linton, exhibit curator and director of the Ben Maltz Gallery. Eleven artists are featured in the show.
Linton says the show concept was inspired by Swiss artist Kelly Heaton’s transformation of the popular Elmo children’s dolls. Heaton skinned the dolls and patched them together into a coat. She then wired the coat so that it tickles the person wearing it.
“It’s meant as a different kind of surrogate for adults,” says Linton. Instead of a surrogate mother in the way that a teddy bear would be for kids, its meant as a surrogate lover for adults.
“Instead of Tickle Me Elmo, the coat tickles you,” Linton explains.
Dutch born artist Jeroen de Vries creates elaborate custom miniature lowrider cars that hop and dance and function by remote control, and closely mimic their full-size counterparts.
Painter Elizabeth Berdann created lovable and loathsome “abominable snow creatures” made up of disturbingly real-looking contorted human faces painted on wooden globes attached to the bodies of plastic elf dolls that are on view in the exhibit.
Berdann cites her apprenticeship with her town’s local medical examiner, where she helped “dissect amputated limbs,” as influential on the direction of her artwork. She first dabbled in puppets and toys working as a special effects person in the film industry.
Her painting and installations have incorporated found objects, jewelry, repetitive imagery and games and puzzles.
In addition to the sculptors, one musical group was included as part of the exhibit. 8-Bit Weapon takes its inspiration from outdated 8-bit video games as well as electronic music of the 1970s and 1980s, an era when the limitations of electronic instruments were obvious to the listener due to the jagged robotic sounds the instruments made. 8-Bit Weapon creates music using vintage video game consoles, including Commodore 64 and 128, and Nintendo Gameboys. Track titles include “Sk8 Bit,” “Game Boy Rocker” and “Funk Data.”
8-Bit Weapon performed at the exhibit opening and the musical outfit’s audio CD will be available for listening at the exhibit.
Additional lectures and special events are planned that correlate with the exhibit. Artist Dan Goodsell, who creates minimalist children’s characters such as “Mr. Toast,” will lecture on “The Imaginary World,” a fictional place that he created to garner inspiration for his characters, at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 11th; and noon Thursday, March 16th. A Sony demonstration of robotic pets is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, March 12th. All three events are free and take place at the Ben Maltz Gallery.
Information, (310) 665-6905.