Friday, May 23, 2014

Erin Dengerink’s “The Hole in Your Heart”

The Weekly Volcano, May 22, 2014

Seashell Fossil, detail from installation by Erin Dengerink
Erin Dengerink’s installation “The Hole in Your Heart is a Portal to Another Dimension” is a mixed media installation of small, whimsical arrangements comprising a surreal landscape that delivers a message of hope to the heartbroken.

That’s what the description on the Artscapes website says. To me it is a delightful little confection consisting of two dioramas in adjacent display cases that are fun to look at. I guess that could be interpreted as “a message of hope to the heartbroken.”

The dioramas are made from tin cans of various sizes stripped of their labels and painting with white paint. To be more accurate, the paint appears to have been dipped in and poured upon, and allowed to drip and puddle in fascinating ways on and around these stacked tin cans. They look like frosted wedding cakes stacked in layers of descending sizes, but the figures on top do not look anything like traditional bride-and-groom cake toppings. They are tiny figurines of people, and most of them have been combined with similar little models of animals, all coated with the same white paint.
There are women riding the backs of hippopotami, rhinoceros, elephants, polar bears and other creatures, some of which are phantasmagorical creatures. There are figures that combine parts of human figures with animal bodies. There’s a woman with a seashell head, for instance, riding the back of an elephant like some kind of circus performer.

There is an interesting symmetry to these dioramas with stacked cans of similar sizes and with similar figures balanced off against one another. They are arranged in a balanced way with, in one instance, a pyramidal formation with the tallest piece in the center and on top of it a bright pink flower on a long stalk reaching high in front of the sun or moon on the back wall, this being almost the only color in the installation. This disc, by-the-way, detracts from more than it adds to the overall look. For another example of the symmetry there are a man and a woman in almost identical jackets at the same height and equal distance from the center. But these are not normal men and woman (I won’t describe — must leave something to the imagination).

On the floor of the cases there are puddles of the dribbled paint that look like pools of water with grasses or lily pads in them. Here also there is a touch of color, green and blue for water and vegetation.

Dengerink’s installation can be seen in the main hall of the Old Post Office at 1102 A St., downtown Tacoma. It will be on view through Aug. 21.

Also on view in the Old Post Office is “Invoke the Muse,” an photography exhibit and community event consisting of nine beautiful and romantic, soft-focus photographs of lovely ladies by Jennifer Chushcoff. The exhibition includes information on the women, each of whom is a muse who has inspired the photographer, and there are postcards that the public is invited to take and write their own messages to the muses. There is more information on Facebook. Just search for Invoke the Muse. This exhibition will remain on view until Sept. 28. It is part of the ongoing Artscapes program.

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