(Daring Helen Keller Imagination)
Found 05/2010, Texas Thrift (Stassney and Manchaca)
A deliberately playful construction, resembling a toy out of the playing card and chess piece world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. The bright colors reinforce the toy-like elements of the subject, as well as creating a strong tie to the world of folk art.
What creates a joyful personality? The subject of (Daring Helen Keller Imagination) is formed of playthings, but her head is darker, black checker pieces and a black plastic chess queen. Chess has become itself a symbol of the academic, cerebral, and reflective—the game of high school outsiders, fanatical players, and old men in the park. Both chess piece and checker are plastic, inorganic and premade.
The figure’s body is more playful—painted figures, bold colors, folk-art construction, and collage. the bits of text on the figure read, “Daring Helen Keller Imagination” and “Albert Einstein Adventure Abraham Lincoln.” These juxtapositions, collages on their own, challenge the viewer by transforming historical figures with youthful energy. Helen Keller is resourceful, adaptable, intelligent. But daring is an exotic word for her, one imagines Keller traipsing along a high wire. But Keller surely is daring, she risked huge challenges to open herself to the world.
Together, these ideas build a fine, Surrealist collision of ideas, and raise the question, “what makes a whole person?” Chaotic, organic collisions, and controlled, cerebral rationality come together to build a complete figure.