Plop Art: New Work by Erik L. Peterson

June 3 – July 27, 2014
Arrowhead Gallery
Curated by Cecilia L. Vargas

Plop by Eric L. Peterson, 2014, Neon, Cone: 2 x 3 ft. and Floor: 9 ft. in diameter, edition of 5

Erik L. Peterson's Artist Statement:
By engaging ordinary objects and actions -- and shifting their basic properties my art surprises the viewer. I work with subtle shifts in scale and distance, mirroring and twinning, comic interplay, and urban camouflage. The artwork converses with - and critiques our manufactured cultural and natural landscapes. Here, the real, the living, the found, the created, and the counterfeit collide.

The potential for disaster is writ-large in Plop, a neon sign for a darkly humorous ice cream shop. In this work, I employ non- traditional materials that address age-old concepts sculptural concerns – space, scale and permanence. My ice cream sculptures like CreamCycle and Soft Palate poke fun at the way traditional (marble or bronze) sculptures “freeze” life, while mine melt in the gallery and are literally consumed by viewers. The artwork Drops, on the other hand, required the collection of the remains of fallen ice cream cones, which were then reconstituted by re-molding and freezing them into new perfect swirls.

I address the issue of scale and time in the painstakingly handmade Billboard Weaving tapestry, constructed from two found billboards. The gigantic work spans the entire gallery wall and simultaneously questions our short attention spans. Referencing the notion that, on average, art museum visitors spend just three seconds looking at a work of art and the fact that billboards are designed specifically to be read in three seconds (at 65mph), this work attempts to slow down our looking, even as it scrambles the messages on the two interwoven signs.

Often, in my art, the audience finds that they are the subjects of the piece, whether through self-reflection, physical proximity, or accidental contact. In Reflecting Pool, industrial reflective glass beads (like the ones used in crosswalks) are spread across the gallery floor in a circle. Activated by a cars headlights or a camera’s flash, the work acts as a Narcissus pond for the Instagram age.

The viewers’ interaction with(in) my works becomes an intriguing cultural experiment. Mixing everyday objects and situations with an interactive public, a wryly self-reflexive alloy is produced. The artwork that emerges is the alchemy of the real and imagined, an absurd chimera of what could be, what might be, and what already is.

Erik L. Peterson is a public artist, sculptor, and curator living in Chicago. He is best known for his large-scale urban interventions (Face Value and Inner State) and signature edible ice cream sculptures (CreamCycle and Soft Palate). Public performances employing sculptural elements like Two Tow’n and Square Dance, are camouflaged urban spectacles, while the annual Make-Your-Own Softball League game gathers artists who build their own bats and balls in order to play. Additionally, Peterson is a founder of Hyde Park Kunstverein, a community musuem and solo project space in Chicago and Qeej Hero, a video game starring the Hmong qeej (a wind instrument), an ancient Hmong musical instrument.

For more information about the art exhibitions at Waubonsee Community College, contact Cecilia Vargas, Art Coordinator, at (630) 466-7900, ext. 2964.


Art Department:

Art Coordinator:
Cecilia Vargas, Von Ohlen Hall 209
(630) 466-7900 ext. 2964

Art Lab Assistant:
Esther Espino, Von Ohlen Hall 240
(630) 466-7900 ext. 5742