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Arts & Culture

Salama’s ’12 sculptures offer a little hair of the dog

By
Arts & Culture Editor
Sunday, November 8, 2009

Taking a break from installing her solo sculpture show Sunday, Cecilia Salama ’12 looked around the small gallery room at the half-dozen works she had already put up. “I think I’ve become completely numb to the fact that all this stuff is gross,” she mused.

Gross is in the eye of the beholder. That said, there is definitely a certain yuck factor to Salama’s untitled sculptures, which are on view on the second floor of List Art Center this week, with a closing reception Thursday evening. They are mixed media works, some of which feature glue- or concrete-caked fabrics contorted into perpetual rumpled-ness. Others are coated with dun-colored resin.

And then, of course, there’s the hair — a “surprising” amount of it, Salama said. She took the bus to Pawtucket in search of dog fur — “There are no groomers in Providence,” she claimed — and pounded the pavement collecting the sweepings from Thayer Street hair salons. Then she stuffed the hair — big, tangled clods of it — into nylon stockings, creating pendular sculptures that swing gently from the ceiling and the walls.

Salama’s show is the culmination of an independent study project on art inspired by the body. She worked with Paul Myoda, assistant professor of visual art, who helped her find artistic precedents to respond to, like the messy, organic works of Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Eva Hesse.

After many weeks of research and planning, Salama made the works all at once so there could be “a strong dialogue between them all.”

“Mostly, I just like experimenting, playing around with different things, different forms,” Salama said.

“You can plan all you like, but you never know how it’s going to turn out,” she continued.

For Salama, the show’s dominant aesthetic is the contrast between “clean and dirty.” She said she used resin to give the homely works a kind of sheen, making them more visually complex.

“I still feel like there’s something very beautiful about it,” she said, looking around at her work, “even though it’s filthy.”
 

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