Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hudson River Museum: Last call to see Fantasy River

A Whole New World
by Emmy Hirsch, guest blogger

The Hudson River Museum presents a dramatic three-dimensional landscape inspired by dreams artist Federico Uribe. Uribe, originally from Colombia, creates sculptures, which are not sculpted by rather constructed and woven, in his site-specific installation made entirely from everyday objects. Stepping into the Fantasy River installation (through August 11th, 2013), one encounters a fantasy world that delights all ages.

The exhibition occupies three galleries: one for wild animals, another for domesticated animals, and the third devoted to the natural life encompassing the Hudson Valley. From zebras and cheetahs to chickens and roosters, the artist constructs a bridge between the savage and the tamed. It is clear from his artwork that Mr. Uribe is always on the lookout for such commonplace items - his creation included garden hoses, tennis rackets, paintbrush handles, artificial fingernails, pencil erasers, coiled phone cords, and more. Other items are a little more rare, such as the thousands upon thousands of bullet casings he used to represent the fur of a tiger.

More of Federico Uribe's work
can be found on his website
Unexpected materials are used to construct this mystical world. Birds are made of twisted bicycle tie bits, a beaver and its dam are made from thousands of colored pencils, and the sun is made of yellow Puma sneakers he mounted on a wall, complete with radiating shoelaces and a rowboat made entirely of empty suitcases, an allusion to the numerous immigrants who, like Mr. Uribe, came from faraway lands to the United States. Not only did the boat piece reinforce the fact that immigrants who leave their homelands come with nothing but the clothes on their backs but also the boat's oars, made of used shovels, bring to surface the amount of labor involved in the journey. A favorite in the exhibition are the trees made from books. One gets an Alice in Wonderland-esque feel as you walk under the spines and rolled pages, noting that Mr. Uribe was letting them be trees again.

The artist uses screws to secure most of the pieces, and many of them are visible. The guide explained that Mr. Uribe was raised on a farm and had a terrible childhood. The repetitive act of turning each screw is an outlet for his anger, and he likes the idea that people can read the effort and recognize the time spent twisting every screw into place. I learned that Mr. Uribe is a stern and determined man who works six days a week, from nine in the morning until eight at night. He works not only because he is motivated but also for the purpose of creating beauty. Although the gallery is currently only three rooms, he makes it bigger and bigger every day, adding more of his little works of art to a greater entity.

Emmy Hirsch is an intern at SchulmanArt and will be an incoming freshman at Franklin and Marshall College in the fall of 2013.

Many artists are inspired by the River.. discover one you love on etsy!