July and August bring the “dog days” of summer. The original reference was celestial and was related to when the Dog Star, Sirius, within the constellation Canis Major, was at its brightest. Perhaps some still think of summer that way, but the Racine Art Museum is currently exhibiting two shows that focus on all kinds of animal imagery -including dogs- from their permanent collection.
Animals have always fascinated the human animal. Since early stages of prehistory, humans have responded by incorporating animal symbolism, animal metaphors and animal imagery into their various cultures. Through time, artistic rendering of animals range from ancient cave paintings of horse-like creatures in Lascaux, France, to contemporary renditions of balloon dogs by Jeff Koons.
The relationship between animals and humans is the focus of RAM’s exhibitions. Presenting work in a variety of materials and approaches, “Animal Magnetism”, housed at the main RAM building, includes 6 works in polymer among the totality of 75 objects by 57 artists. While the show explores a broad range of interpretations of animal inspiration, theme and motif, it also incorporates works in polymer into a bigger context of craft. Artists included in the exhibit are: Margaret Maggio, whose “Tit for Tat: The Fable of the Fox and the Stork”, is pictured above, as well Wendy Malinow’s, “Badigeon Beetle” , Nan Roche’s two “Animal Augury” boxes , and two pieces by Cynthia Toops, “Anemone” and “Sampler Necklace”. No doubt, visitors coming to the exhibit primarily will be engaged by the animal references and not any given art material, which is just as it should be. Polymer is simply part of the pack.