The Korn Gallery, located in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, recently launched the Low Residency program, which allows several months of studio access and pedagogical exchange to artists with rigorous and experimental research practices. The Korn Gallery’s current exhibition, Candy-Glazed Eyes of Haunted Machines, is not only notable for the colorfully nostalgic and dystopian imagery, but also because it represents a new era in the Drew arts community. Rosalie Yu is the experimental artist-in-residence. While also working on a display in Times Square, Yu will be staying at Drew until late fall to work directly with senior studio art students and organize her pieces in the Korn Gallery.
In comparison to previous gallery exhibitions, Yu’s features an element of variation. Rather than a static collection, the art changes by the day. Half the gallery, in fact, has been taken over by her “Inspiration Wall” with multi-colored sticky notes, printed photographs, exaggerated sketches and pencil marks cluttering the blank space. Viewers can gain bits and pieces of insight into her artistic process when examining this work, a benefit rarely provided in more “organized” installations.
The installation itself combines multi-dimensional artworks to tell a story of generational craftsmanship. Yu’s grandfather built “kiddie rides” by hand in Taiwan. She draws inspiration from this experience, as displayed by a projected video compilation on the back wall of the gallery. The screen features images of computer-rendered recreations of his works as the backdrop for a captioned conversation between what sounds like family members. They discuss the grandfather’s work and what the elder members (Yu’s father, for example) remember about the rides that dominated their childhoods. Specifically, her father recalls the cassette tapes played in the rides. Yu expertly segways from this conversation into an 8-bit rendition of “Old Macdonald,” a modernized take on what the cassette tapes may have sounded like.
In the center of the exhibit stands a wooden box, which contains a collection of sculptured eyes that is visible when a viewer steps closer to peek over the top. Visitors are allowed to pick them up and feel the jagged edges of the expertly painted clay. The majority of the clay eyes contain bits of hair dried into the edges.
Another key aspect of the exhibit is the flat-screen television hung on the right-facing wall. On display is a collection of unnerving videos of a person exploring what looks to be abandoned and derelict buildings. The voices of each video overlap so that the words are hardly audible — instead, the focus is on the images themselves. To give further context, the videos were shot by Yu at various colleges at which she previously held residences. In each video, she is exploring a part of their campuses, alien not only because they are foreign buildings, but because of the way the shadows manipulate the sight. While a college campus should be fairly familiar to those attending the exhibit, the videos make otherwise normal spaces strange and unnerving.
The lack of explanation adds to the installation’s overall eerie feeling. As one meanders through Yu’s hodgepodge collection of childhood nostalgia and warped sculpture, there is a sense of liminality to the gallery. Once over the threshold, the viewer becomes actively engaged in, and arguably an essential part of, the artwork. From the distorted Pikachu masks to the urban exploration, Yu effectively yanks a viewer in and leaves them rooted to the linoleum.
Featured image courtesy of Dee Cohen