‘Big Pork,’ bones exhibits occupy Dittmar

Dittmar Gallery's winter exhibition,

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Dittmar Gallery’s winter exhibition, “Animal/Artifact,” looks at the relationship between humans and mammals. The exhibit will be on display until March 22.

Junnie Kwon, Reporter

A giant foam pig and a display of stacked bones currently lie in Dittmar Gallery.

The two sculptures are a part of a new exhibition, “Animal/Artifact,” by two artists, Maria Lux and David Harper. The duo are among a total of eight the Dittmar staff chose out of about 80 submissions, gallery employee Shannon Desmond said. Although the artists submitted artwork separately and had never met before, the staff paired them together to collaborate on the exhibit, which is on display from Feb. 21 to March 22. Lux and Harper have been organizing the exhibition since last summer.

After spotting a similar animal theme in both artists’ work, the staff foresaw an obvious collaborative show, Desmond said. Although the gallery staff helped with manual installations and kept in touch with the artists’ plans for the show, the artists did most of the curatorial work, she said.

“We thought both of their works were really compelling and had really great messages in telling stories about American consumption,” the Communication senior said.

The most noticeable installation is the pig sculpture, “Big Pork,” which was inspired by an annual state fair in Lux’s hometown, she said. Each year, the fair features a “biggest boar” contest where contestants show off their largest pigs. Because Lux was a frequent visitor, she was surprised to find out the Illinois state fair had eliminated a similar contest, calling it animal cruelty. This sparked Lux’s research into the contest and why people were so attracted to the pigs.

“People get excited about it and like to take pictures with it, just because it’s big,” she said. “I wanted to open a space for thinking about what it means to look at a big animal like that.”

The other large installation is a display of multiple stacks of large bones. The piece, “Settlement in the Place of Lore,” was a culmination of Harper’s interest in folklore and the act of collecting, he said.

“These piles of bones, teeth and tusks are stand-ins for the myths and legends that we go back to in our lives — those cautionary tales and fantastical journeys that speak to who we are,” Harper said.

Although Desmond called the two sculptures “eye-catching,” Weinberg sophomore Ankita Roy said the installation of eight hanging pieces made up of embroidery on canvas, “Rhopos,” by Harper, were her favorite. Each canvas has an ivory embroidered silhouette of a rabbit. When manually installing the set, the artist made sure to align the bottom side of the canvases, Desmond said.

“I like the fact that there’s one constant, and that it’s portrayed in different ways,” Roy said. “It’s seen as a part of nature but also a part of a kitchen. It’s a unique way to make a statement.”

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