Review: Lesley Baker, (un)Natural 

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click to enlarge Lesley Baker, "It's a New Day"
  • Lesley Baker, "It's a New Day"

Herron professor Lesley Baker’s new exhibition draws inspiration from the question, “Is man really in control, or is nature the one manipulating man in order to become stronger?” By juxtaposing ceramic works “referencing precious European garnitures and kitsch collectibles” (again quoting her artist statement) with mutations of animals she creates a disarming effect. It seems you are looking at a rendition of a cute little chipmunk until you move closer and realize that two bodies share a single head and have grotesquely long tails resembling horns.

Most of the animals are formed of parts from various species, and there is an emphasis on large, threatening horns in unexpected places. Baker is a master of porcelain; everything in this exhibition is crafted with precision, skill and great creativity.

Although her “Bull in a China Shop” installation at TURF was conceptually rich, (un)Natural is far more aesthetically pleasing. The bull remains a recurring symbol for Baker in pieces such as “Side of Beef,” a wonderfully gaudy and clever piece featuring one side of a bull atop an ornamented gold and silver plate. Through March 30 at Wug Laku's Studio and Garage.

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