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Arts & Culture

Rubber duckies: they’re not just for bath time anymore

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, October 8, 2010

“Not All Rubber Ducks Look Alike,” an exhibit of artist Lucy Sander Sceery’s work currently on display at the Sarah Doyle Center Gallery, explores the vast and varied world of rubber ducks through a display of both two- and three-dimensional visual art.

The exhibit features vibrant photographs of rubber ducks as well as an eclectic collection of the ducks themselves. “Sitting Ducks,” one piece in the series, features rubber ducks dressed as vampires, police officers, Elvis and cowboys.

Sceery’s exhibit made its way to the Brown campus through a selective process, said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the Bell Gallery and member of the selection committee. “We do a call for proposals advertised through Art New England. The student organizer for the gallery posts these all together and then a committee of people look at these and select exhibitions,” she said.

Sceery said that showing her work on campus had special personal significance for her. “I’m thrilled my work is on display at Brown, especially because my father graduated from Brown,” Sceery said.

Sceery said she chose to use a combination of photographs and physical ducks because “some concepts just work better as a 2-D piece and others as 3-D. It has to make sense to me.”

A number of her two-dimensional pieces begin as digital photographs, Sceery said. She then edits them using Photoshop, adding her unique point of view to each picture. The photos depict rubber ducks in a myriad of ways, sometimes in subdued shades of gray, sometimes in a vibrantly colorful fashion.

Sceery’s two-dimensional pieces also include hand-colored Polaroid transfers and photo montages that depict rubber ducks in unexpected scenarios, encouraging the reader to rethink their former conceptions of the classic bath-time toy. “I’ve always loved photo montage, cutting things out and having to put them together somehow,” she said.

Sceery said her interest in rubber ducks began about a decade ago. “I collected a few rubber ducks for my grandson to play with in the bathtub and was surprised at the different kinds of ducks available,” Sceery said. “I just thought a rubber duck was a rubber duck, and it amazed me.”

Some pieces in “Not All Rubber Ducks Look Alike” present the rubber ducks in a humorous context: “A Bunch of Quacks” and “Duck Bills,” featuring photos of ducks dressed as doctors and ducks as the faces on dollar bills and both translating word play to a visual gag. “Humor draws the viewer in and then they get a chance to think about the deeper issues,” Sceery said.

In her artist statement, Sceery asks the question she explores through the pieces in her exhibit: “Aren’t the subjects, rubber ducks looking and acting differently, a metaphor for mankind?”

“People who are prejudiced and think all people of one ethnicity look alike can see here that not even rubber ducks look alike,” Sceery said. “I want them to think of the fact that people do have prejudices, and sometimes it’s a really silly thing.”

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