Red Crosses, 2001
linen, wax, thread
13" x 12½" x 3"
from the Body Armor Sculptures Series
ART THAT'S NOT JUST WINDOW DRESSING
New Art Center, Newton, Jan-March 2002
by Taline Voskeritchian, Arts Media
Suitable Means is an exhibition whose best moments achieve
the kind of curious, sometimes unexpected transparency and
and joy which is the result of having seen something you did
not notice the first time around.
We are told that the idea behind the exhibition is the "use
of clothing as an art material or structural reference". Literally
and derivatively, the idea of clothing as means is exhaustively
deployed and sometimes transcended in the work of the four
artists, Aparna Agrawal, Lorey
Bonante, Pat Shannon, and Susan Halter, who also curated the
The show is also notable for the diversity of found and created
materials used—from snail shells, to jeans, to suits, to glass
vials, to tea bags, to cheesecloth, to leather, to paper,
to muslin to plaster.
But a governing idea is a double-edged sword, which can be
generative and open-ended or tyrannical and opaque. Artists
navigate through its narrow straits in a variety of guises
–from the hyper serious to the light-hearted and all shades
The sense of subdued violence is most saliently displayed
in Agrawal's series, "Body Armors". Of the four artists, Agrawal
adheres the most closely to a clear equation of the body as
armor, and body covering as a kind of protection. The "Body
Armor" series is variations on this theme where the human
form becomes a surface for the meticulous hand of the artist.
Here, Agrawal is working at the farther edges of the governing
idea of the show. At first there is something horrific and
shocking about Agrawal's human forms, something scarred and
abandoned as in "Body Armor, Red Crosses", especially when
you return to it after "Body Armor, Iridescent".