Thursday, January 25, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 82



Blaffer showcases ĎA Brief History of Twinei

By M. Kahlil Taylor
Daily Cougar Staff

Blaffer Gallery, art museum of UH, has filled its space with common objects that have been transformed into quizzical combinations of artistry. 

The exhibit, Donald Lipski: A Brief History of Twine, opened January 13 and will continue until the long-awaited graduate art show begins in March.

Donald Lipskiis work over the past 13 years is amazingly satirical and inventive. He has recycled the "less valued" items of American life into intriguing pieces of art. By presenting our own childlike obsession to playfully creative toys made of chewing gum wrappers and paperclips on a large, exaggerated scale, Lipski reminds us of humanityis need to obsessively create.

Lipski was born in Chicago during the late 1940s. His father taught him magic and assemblage while his mother taught him the art of "elaborate-looking things" through her cooking.

Photo courtesy of Donald Lipski

Best described as "recycled" art, "Texas Instruments" is one of the pieces by artist Donald Lipski on display at Blaffer Gallery. His exhibition runs through March.

Lipski tinkered with toys, erector sets and wood carving during his youth, but ended up majoring in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His senior year experiences with art pushed him toward his masters of fine arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art and a teaching job at the University of Oklahoma.

There he was invited to create one of his first major pieces, "Gathering Dust."

Upon passing the front desk, you are visually greeted by "Gathering Dust." Although the 100 or so small sculptures may have been gathering dust before this transformation, they are now coordinated combinations testing our imagination. His sculptures catch your eye and force you to examine their ingenuity or looking for their utilitarian purpose. This piece is an introduction to the fascination viewers will continue to feel throughout the show.

The exhibit promotes art focused on the idea and concept rather than on expensive materials. His work gives you the feeling that he could be a twisted mad scientist because most of his inventions are useless for practical purposes.

For instance, "Untitled #90-07" is a beautiful pinwheel created from 36 rust-brown fly swatters. His use of the flyswatters has surpassed their original intent, but the new creation of a giant wheel is far more interesting to the mind.

The 1994 piece "The Starry Night" is a reinstallation of double-sided razor blades flowing across the wall like a shaken etch-a-sketch. Razor blades pierce the white-walled canvas and become abstracted reflectors of light.

Their curves and unified turns draw the human eye around the wall in continuous patterns.

He once again alters the original intent of an object in "The Humidors," a metal-and-glass encasement of thousands of cigarettes. Lipski approximated how many he had smoked each year during his attempts to quit.

He then placed the cigarettes inside the container using the brown tobacco front and the white filter backing as tiles to write the date each box represented.

Some may ponder whether these pieces and objects are now art, or just overpriced stacks of trash. Regardless, A Brief History of Twine still offers intriguing visuals and comical relief from the daily grind of university life.

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