The Miraculous In The Everyday

December 1 - March 12, 2005
The Miraculous In The Everyday

This exhibition explores the work of three renowned conceptual and installation artists -- Tom Friedman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Gabriel Orozco -- whose use of modest, humble materials celebrate the mundane in contemporary life. Adjectives often attached to their art -- fleeting, fragile, and ephemeral -- describe an experience that approaches everyday life itself.

The Miraculous in the Everyday follows upon a four day ceremony at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (November 14 - 17) where Tibetan Buddhist monks created a sand mandala painting from inception to completion and final dispersal into the Connecticut River, symbolizing the "world in harmony" (Sanskrit word for mandala) and the impermanence of all earthly things. Although links between Buddhist perspectives and the work of these three artists are meant only to be inferred, their art encourages an attitude of heightened awareness in the viewer, like the sudden illuminating change in perception that lies at the center of Zen practice. The work of Tom Friedman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Gabriel Orozco enriches our encounter with the real, regenerates our perception, opens our eyes to what is already there, and evokes the feeling of the world made new.

TOM FRIEDMAN (born 1965 in St. Louis, MO) invents intricate objects out of a range of household materials, such as Styrofoam, masking tape, pencils, toilet paper, spaghetti, toothpicks and bubble gum. His work, both beautiful and playful, is obsessively and painstakingly crafted. Central to his mission is the transformation of the form and function of everyday materials into the unexpected. His work represents one of the most inventive approaches to making and thinking about art today.

For his exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art, Friedman will install White Cloud (1989) and an entirely new work created specifically for this exhibition.

He has had solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (1995); the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2000); The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2000); the Prada Foundation in Milan (2002); and his work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions around the world.

FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES, the influential Cuban-born American artist (1957-1996), was not interested in making art that allowed the viewer to remain a spectator. His work offers the viewer an opportunity to contribute his or her own experiences, and to participate in the meaning of the work. In "Untitled (Placebo)", 1991, a carpet of shimmering silver wrapped candy lies on the gallery floor. Without any sign stating so, the viewer is invited to take and eat a piece of candy. Every night the "spill" is replenished and lives on in a constant cycle of loss and regeneration. The title of the work refers to the exsistence of an illness, yet the placebo may also offer the cure. This work is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Gonzalez-Torres" work was the focus of several major museum solo exhibitions in his lifetime and after his death. Retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1995), the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany (1997) and the Serpentine Gallery in London (2000).

GABRIEL OROZCO (born 1962 in Veracruz, Mexico) is renowned for creating work that highlights the elegant and lyrical beauty found in the everyday. His art takes the form of sculpture, installations, drawing, photography, and video.

Lintels (2001) are shredded pieces of felted lint, recovered from laundromat dryers, draped with meticulous care on lines that stretch across the gallery. The frail substance is a mix of shredded cloth, dust, human hair, and shed skin that the artist had collected for a period of a year. They appear to be weightless, floating in space. His title Lintels is a sort of pun (a lintel is a strong, solid piece of stone, metal or wood that supports a wall above a door or window). Orozco's "lintel" is made out of a weightless material.

Orozco currently lives in Mexico City, New York, and Paris. His work has been featured in international exhibitions including the Sculpture Project in Munster (1997); XXIV São Paulo Biennial; Documenta X; Venice Biennale (1993, 2003); as well as numerous solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Serpentine Gallery, London; and the Kunsthalle, Zurich.


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