Mary Ellen O'Meara (L), Duane Slick (R)
Re:Play brings together the work of five artists who depict toys, cartoon characters, and childhood fantasies in their work. Proposing that the creative process is based in our most primal forms of play and imagination, the artists make up their own rules and trust their instincts. Toys allow children the ability to act out their fantasies, to become someone else, or travel to a different place and time. As adults, we have the ability to exploit the many complexities associated with toys or our intimate childhood experiences with them.
Christopher Deris builds machines that invite play and that act as surrogates for the artist. Through his drawing and sculpture these objects become surreal manifestations of basic human needs, simplified to the cause and effect of a few mechanical movements.
In using childhood imagery such as super heroes, toys, and ray guns Craig Hill creates paintings and sculptures that revolve around issues of masculinity and male rites of passage. His works are often satirical and play upon the traditions of abstract, optical, and minimal painting. Challenged by the ideas of icons from both his childhood and adult life, Hill establishes a subversive vision of maleness.
Randa Newland's mixed media works use toys and other found materials to establish a narrative that poses a delicate mixture of surprise and irony. She presents tiny views of an imaginary microcosm to share her personal views of the mysteries and complexities of the human condition.
Through her sculptures and mixed media works, Mary Ellen O'Meara makes reference to feminine and domestic rituals and incorporates traditional "craft" techniques. O'Meara comments on relationships, gender roles and how these established environments shape our personalities. Her works play as a social critique of gender specific toys and point to a child's imagination and fantasy of adult life.
In the work of Duane Slick, toys, masks, figures and faces are culturally encoded. Slick who is Native American is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Iowa. His monochrome white paintings construct intricate narratives where the shadows of culturally specific toys; a mythological Navajo wolf dancer and coyote mask, appear to clash with the shadows of toy robots amidst landscapes of corporate logos and trademarks; a provocative allegory for the tension between spirituality and global commercialism.