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Art and Function

New MPA exhibit unlocks hidden beauty in everyday gadgets, contraptions, or refuse.

McLean Project for the Arts hosted a reception on Jan. 16, to celebrate the opening of its latest exhibition, “Contraptions: Reflections on the Almost Functional.” The exhibition also includes solo shows by artists, Melissa Burley, and Eric Celarier.

“Contraptions: Reflections on the Almost Functional” exhibition presents a fresh look at some commonplace objects. But their usual functions have been altered or even eliminated, to allow for artistic interest or beauty.

In the main Emerson Gallery, five artists present a variety of works, both two and three-dimensional, that shares their interpretation of the allure of functioning objects. In contrast, some of the creations manage to simulate working contraptions, without including actual working parts. The pieces are whimsical and fun.

Many of the artists have used old debris in an effort to give second life to discarded items. And while not all of the creations represent beauty, absolutely every piece invites contemplation.

The Contraptions exhibition includes sculptures by Rima Schulkind. She refers to her series as the “Detritus of Obsolescent Technology,” and in one of her pieces, starts with antiquated cameras, working her way up to a more modern adding machine.

Artist, Stephanie Williams is represented with nearly functional, anatomical-like sculptures. The many possible utilities of her sculptures make them worthy of lengthy inspection. The same goes for her colorful two-dimensional works.

The exhibition also includes watercolors by artist, Blake Hurt, and sculptures by Dymphna DeWild, constructed from items she collects on walks. Her works have an intentional outpost feeling. “They are kind of unstable. But stable enough to stand. They’re about survival. The pieces survive,” she said. A sculpture by artist, Adam Hager, is a completely dismantled artifact, which has been reconstructed in a compelling fashion.

The Atrium Gallery features sculptures by artist Melissa Burley. Her works use glass, light and everyday objects. The observer is drawn to her works by their features, as well as the lighting in the Atrium itself.

Upon entering the exhibition, viewers will be greeted in the Ramp Gallery by quilt-like pieces fashioned from leather-framed computer plates. Eric Celarier’s works offer different perspectives depending on the situation of the observer. They have a cityscape feel from a distance, which encourages a closer look.

The exhibition will be open to the community at the McLean Project for the Arts until March 1.