Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor 02.27.09
AUTHOR: MICOL HEBRON 01.24.09-03.14.09 David Salow Gallery
Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor’s debut solo show in Los Angeles aptly fulfills the Promethean artist-as-alchemist role through an installation of ten large mixed-media sculptures that feature fastidious transmogrifications of twine, lace, tarps, and other textiles into large anthropomorphic animals. Her source materials are perfect fodder for nostalgia and the uncanny as they recall the discomfiting familiarity of dismantled thrift-store furniture, geriatric home decor, and discarded stuffed animals. The embodiments of an ordered chaos, these creatures are remarkably well composed, with skeletal infrastructures, physiognomic gestures, and even realistic anatomical features. While solid and impressive in form, they are also pathetic. Her “No Names” are plagued with abnormalities and defects: a peg leg, an extralong arm, two faces, or an oversize head. They are posed mid-lumber or slump, frozen in the gallery like slowly encroaching zombies (and there is indeed an attraction-repulsion impulse perpetuated by the paradox of their cute grotesqueness). Mythology, allegory, and fairy tale are bound to these monsters as tightly as the chunks of tacky sofa that O’Connor uses as limbs. But these desperate and beautiful bodies also bring to mind the dire need to reexamine, recycle, and recompose the materials around us that so poignantly resurface in times of economic hardship.