From erecting a formal 17th-century garden inside an art gallery to transforming many small egg timers into lemons, Kim Dickey and Humberto Duque are trying to make their audience question reality in very subtle ways.
At 6 p.m. Jan. 25, the world-renowned artists spoke to a handful of students and art enthusiasts in an insightful question-and-answer session as part of the center’s ongoing “Artist Talk” series at MSU Denver’s Center for Visual Art.
Both Dickey and Duque were asked to participate in the discussion on behalf of the current “In Situ” exhibition at the CVA, which highlights the work of Dickey and Duque, as well as two other artists, Isabelle Hayeur and Ximena Labra.
The four were also chosen to display pieces at the Denver International Airport until July 2013.
“[DIA] sent out a call to upwards of 60 artists internationally and invited them to submit for this temporary public art commission installation,” Dickey said. “Four of us were chosen in April. In June, at different times, we all had site visits and decided where our artworks might live.”Dickey, who grew up in New York and attended the Rhode Island School of Design, came to Boulder in 1999 to teach at the University of Colorado as an assistant ceramics professor.
“When I took my first ceramics class in middle school, it was a visceral experience of falling in love,” Dickey said. “The thing that keeps me engaged in ceramics is that it is so multifaceted — from functional objects to design objects, to figurative sculpture and old arts. It has a wide range that it engages.”
Such a wide range lends itself to Dickey’s current work, which simultaneously re-creates and deconstructs a structured garden using mostly clay, aluminum and green glaze.
According to Dickey, one of the main pieces at the CVA, entitled “Inverted L-beam,” should make viewers think about details in nature’s design, as well as the fact that landscapes have an implied “theatricality.” Structured gardens, for instance, can expose this.
“I’m trying to make another layer to this work that references back to these ideas of ‘in between,’ of site that’s neither outside nor inside, natural or man-made,” Dickey said.
Duque’s work at the CVA serves the same purpose, but in a more direct, repetitive and absurd way.
Duque, who grew up and resides in Mexico City, has traveled and exhibited his art all over the world, including residencies and solo shows in Austria, Taiwan and Japan. Overall, his pieces have shared one main goal.
“Confronting or being in front of something that you see everyday, that might not be special, but then there’s a little ‘twist’ implied and you see it — even though it’s monotonous or repetitive, there’s something that will stand out and make you realize that you’re looking at something different,” Duque explained, referencing his intriguing “lemon timers,” which are essentially plastic lemons turned into brightly colored, audible alarm clocks.
Although the CVA has held artist discussions in the past, Talya Dornbush — the educational director of the CVA — wants them to be more frequent and hopes to host one for every exhibit that passes through the center.
“The artist’s perspective all comes out in the talks,” Dornbush said, noting that hearing artists like Dickey and Duque speak about their respective work is one thing, but being able to engage them and ask them questions, no matter how detailed, repetitive or absurd, “enriches the visitor’s experience.”
The “In Situ” exhibit at the CVA has been running since Jan. 4 and will run until Feb. 9.