Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Artist and Her Tribe

After a long week of dealing with students, faculty and staff, the last thing I want to do on a Friday night is go out and mingle with crowds of people, but Andrew at Strand Fine Art had told me about an exhibit that was opening at their gallery this past Friday, and my curiousity got the better of me.  I'm so glad it did, as both the art, and the artist, were great fun.
Vickie Easton McClung (seen in the photo above, with one of her doll sculptures) is a Port Dover-based artist who works in various mediums including collage, painting, drawing, and sewn sculpture.  For the past three years she has been creating art that was inspired by the acquisition of a broken antique doll from her mother-in-law's vast doll collection. Easton McClung created an entire narrative based on this doll, and created a body of work that is infused with a sharp wit, and blends elements of folk art and popular culture.  
"Toy Boy"
Included in the exhibit were mixed media drawings that used her original antique doll as a model.

"The Snatcher"
Easton McClung's collages, mounted on rough board, incorporate images from old Eaton's catalogues, photos of antique doll heads, pencil drawing and doll body parts, all set in backgrounds of 1950's domesticity.
 "The Offering"
Easton McClung moved from two-dimensional works to sculpture, creating new dolls using parts of 30 neglected and well-used dolls from the 50's and 60's.  In addition to cut up parts of dolls, the sculptures include found objects, fabrics, and gourds. 
"Get Your Motor Running"
The exhibition catalogue mentions that Easton MClung was not a doll lover as a child; she found the lack of anatomical correctness or unusual facial features too dull for her liking.  My favourite works in the exhibit were what the artist refers to as her "tribal dolls" - colourful, quirky sculptures of male and female figures (with obvious and colourful genitalia sewn on) infused with humour and a lot of attitude.  Her "tribe" was created by a combination of hand-sewing and the use of a toy sewing machine given to her by her daughter.  Easton McClung told me she would love to be able to make clothes, and if they had the same sensibility as her soft sculptured figures, I would definitely wear them! 
"Hoochie Coochie Girls"
This figure, titled "So What", was my personal favourite for her sassy hand-on-hip attitude and jingle-bell adorned breasts, but alas, she was already sold by the time I got to the show, as were many of the other sculptures.
I did stake my claim on these two, titled, "The Confidant"
Of course, I had to get an outfit photo in here somewhere....these two sisters, friends of the artist, were wearing ultra-soft and very pretty jackets made by Paula Lishman, who creates beautiful garments knit or woven from fur.  I had a wonderful conversation with the woman in the red jacket about Paula, whom I had not heard of, and Paula's husband Bill Lishman, an inventor, artist and ultralight aircraft enthusiast who was featured in the film "Fly Away Home". 

 The Exhibit "My Tribe" by Vicki Easton McClung continues at Strand Fine Art Services, located at 1161 Florence Street, Unit 4, until February 25th.  The Gallery is open Tuesday - Friday 10 am - 5 pm and Saturdays 10 am - 1 pm.

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