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The second ‘Object Builders’ student art exhibit feels as fearless and infectious as the first

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Elderly Figure/Infantile Figure” by Chance Smith and Lilia Todd, part of “Object Builders of the Future Unite: The Sequel” on display at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
Photo: Leila Navidi

Near the sweeping staircase of the Government Center Rotunda, an odd and fascinating duo monitors the bustling ebb and flow of traffic. “Elderly Figure/Infantile Figure,” by Chance Smith and Lilia Todd, have thoughtfully crafted wooden faces—one childlike and one aged—and sport Teletubby-inspired footed pajamas. The ensemble’s playful colors belie the subtly pensive mood, one life at its end and another just beginning. They are unspeakably weird and completely disturbing. What’s not to love?

This mixture of craftsmanship and playfulness infuses the gallery’s Object Builders of the Future Unite: The Sequel, all under the watchful eye of Smith’s and Todd’s mesmerizing collaboration. The second in a series of annual exhibitions uniting the work of 3D students from CSN and UNLV, this year’s manifestation is no less delightful than the first go-round.

Calendar

Object Builders of the Future Unite: The Sequel
Through May 18; Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., free.
Clark County Government Center Rotunda, 455-7030

Student work often has an unselfconscious spirit of fearlessness. In Object Builders, that infectious dose of experimentation is more humorous than anarchic. Much of the exhibition consists of utilitarian objects blown up to a much larger, human-size scale. A meat tenderizer, a Lego and a plug are among the larger-than-life tools and tidbits. This supersize-me strategy can seem a bit heavy handed while lacking ingenuity, but the care and sincerity with which these sculptures are fabricated erases any trace of irony. The whimsical forms play nicely against the seriousness of the civic space.

Object Builders: The Sequel

Toni Lin’s “Spilt Milk,” a toppled carton of milk oozing its contents across the reflective granite floor, is disarmingly giddy. And in one of the best uses of the Rotunda on record, Deborah Witt’s “Just Hanging Around” reimagines a tiny drink ornament in the form of a red monkey—a giant primate hanging from a trunk-like decorative lamp.

Far more subtle are a series of figurative-based works. Alex Kereczman’s humorous bronze “Ode to Gallbladder” and “Figurehead in Bronze” each have a quirky allure, nicely inverting the monumentality of the material by virtue of their diminutive scale. Rae Hanley’s amorphous “Cannibalistic Mucophagy I and II” channels the figure in a completely novel, strange and utterly gross way (trust me, Google it). And the lovely and melancholy “Only Time Belongs to Everyone” by Melissa Nelson combines wood and metal in a beautifully made, buoyant, mobile-like structure.

The transition from CSN to UNLV student is seamless, and CSN’s Keith Conley and UNLV’s Emily Kennerk have done a nice job of assembling a varied sampling of their students’ finest work. The result is a Government Center Rotunda duly transformed into a wacky and wonderful landscape, a front row seat as Object Builders of the Future Unite and take over.

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Danielle Kelly

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