RE-ANIMATION: TURNING TOYS INTO ART
November 2 – December 30, 2012
Brown-Forman Gallery, Third Floor
Re-Animation: Turning Toys Into Art is an exhibition of kinetic and well-crafted play things from two Louisville artists who are generations apart - Marvin Finn and Douglas Miller. This exhibit is curated by Nick Hartman, a student currently enrolled in the Critical and Curatorial Studies Program at the University of Louisville, as part of his continuing education. The exhibition is located on the third floor Brown-Forman gallery and will be on view through December 30.
Action/movement/play/reanimation are all integral components of the works within this exhibition. The aspect of play and fun are driving elements of the pieces by Marvin Finn and Douglas Miller. The artists use childhood objects and disassembled toys to conceptualize the whimsical act of play. Although playful in tone, Re-Animation exhibits technically proficient, well executed, kinetic pieces that will make all ages marvel.
Although Marvin Finn is best known for crafting simplified folk art chickens, he began his art career by making elaborate, large-scale toys. Finn’s toys were meticulous in detail and incorporated intricate moving parts. This kinetic aspect of his work was an important facet to Finn since he believed that the movement of the work was what brought excitement and life to his pieces. Finn’s fascination with everything mechanical led him to construction work, where he worked as a laborer for 26 years — jobs in construction, pumping gas, and loading barges. Since he was inspired by the size and scale of his urban environment, he began making massive toys which reflected his child-like inspiration.
Fascinated by the objective of correction, Douglas Miller aims to showcase his belief that “(the) idea of refinement relies on an elusive pursuit for perfection.” Miller rearranges childhood objects and symbols to challenge their culturally inherent significance. He alters pre-existing icons to challenge meaning by “discern(ing) the impulse of correction and to reevaluate the influence of logic.” Concerning his usage of toys in his work, he states, “The connection with objects from your childhood lasts into your adult life. Once they were tools to your creativity, I wanted to use them in a similar way by reconstructing their physical properties.” Through varying degrees of manipulation, Miller is able to transform playful toys into unique physical objects and images which question their original meaning.