Art Professor's Exhibit on Display at Walton Arts Center
The Walton Arts Center will host a new art exhibit Thursday, Feb.2, entitled “Made in the USA,” featuring sculptures created by Jeannie Hulen, the Chair of the art department and associate professor of ceramics at the University of Arkansas. Known for integrating everyday materials like plastic, Astroturf, and other construction materials with traditional fine art media like fired clay, Hulen’s sculptural installations challenge artistic conventions, cultural norms and the way the marketplace shapes personal, gender and cultural identities.
“This exhibit is a critique of contemporary culture,” said Hulen. “Despite the cute, candy-coated exterior, there is a subversive undertone reflecting America. In America, we tend to live with rose-colored glasses and this exhibit visually explores the underlying subtleties of consumerism and capitalism.”
The exhibit displays free-standing figures and a backdrop all hand-made by Hulen. The centerpiece, a terracotta nude sculpture modeled after Hulen’s daughter, is surrounded by porcelain toy cars molded from her daughter’s plastic Big Wheel toys, showing Hulen’s signature style of integrating different combinations of materials.
Pairing sexually charged objects like bows, associated with femininity, and cars, associated with masculinity, allows viewers to consider the ways our culture applies gender-codes to consumerism. “There are a lot of fine print and subtle details to pay attention to,” said Hulen. “A lot of the content reflects American history and the meaning of manifest destiny and paternalism.”
After studying for three months at Tainan National University in the 2009 fall semester, Hulen produced “Made in Taiwan,” an installation representing the complex consumer toy culture and relationship between Taiwan, Japan, China and the United States. “Made in the USA” is a diptych installation and companion to “Made in Taiwan.”
The installation will be displayed at the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery from Feb. 2 to April 22 with an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 This is the second exhibition held by the Walton Arts Center featuring a University of Arkansas art professor.
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