Review: Meet the Artists 

Behind the Meet the Artists XXVIII Art Exhibit

click to enlarge Larry Vaughn's "Lucy"
  • Larry Vaughn's "Lucy"

4 stars

Metalworking is prominent at Meet the Artists, in various guises. Let's start by talking about Aboubakar Allal, who makes jewelry without power tools as he was taught by his father. Allal is from Niger, West Africa; his ethnicity is Tuareg. The arts and crafts of the Tuareg people are known throughout the world. (Maybe you've seen their cross of Agadez pendants.) The inclusion of Allal's art in Meet the Artists — along with the leatherwork of Gaicha Boutali, his wife — gives this exhibit a global reach.

Tuaregs have been repurposing materials for their art from time immemorial, but he's not the only one at Meet the Artists to do so. Keith Bullock's day job is as a welder for Praxair in Speedway, but his on-the-job skills certainly are crucial when it comes to repurposing materials to create his metal sculptures. Bullock has two on display here. "Ground Zero" sort of looks like a meteor on a platter. There's a certain rough-hewn gravity to this sculpture, as well as an ambiguity in regard to the meaning of its ominous title.

Another talented sculptor, Larry Vaughn has a sculpture entitled "Lucy," carved from Indiana limestone. The face of the woman depicted is stylized in the manner of African masks. The title of the sculpture, carved from Indiana limestone, could be an allusion to the fact that all humankind might be her descendants. (Lucy is the popular name for a 3.2 million-year-old hominin skeleton found in Ethiopia in 1974.)

A much more current history is alluded to in Derrick Carter's sand and acrylic painting "Roots," which also employs blocks of wood to symbolize bars on a cage in which you see three slaves in chains. The way Carter combines all his elements – sand, wood, and paint – here is stunning. Just for starters, there's the raw, rough texture of his piece, combined with his dead-on representational skill. And then there's the history of slavery that's referred to in this painting. But the painting is also imbued with the personal history of the artist, who has been through much adversity, who suffered through a 2005 car crash, breaking almost every bone on the right side of his body. "Some days I'm looking ahead," he tells me. "Some days I'm left in the shadows." Pay attention to the dignity he's able to convey to these chained figures with his limited color palette. Pay attention to their darting eyes, cognizant of the past but looking toward the future.

Indianapolis Central Library through Mar. 27

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