“Mithu Sen: Border Unseen” is running from Friday, April 25 through Sunday, August 31 at the Broad Art Museum in East Lansing. This is the first solo US museum exhibition featuring the work of Ms. Sen, who was born in 1971 in West Bengal, India (not to be confused with West Bengal, Iowa). Now based in New Delhi, she is the leading feminist voice in modern Indian art. She has gained prominence over the past decade by creating representations – at once sensual and grotesque – of the human body, other animals, and inanimate objects: a juxtaposition that provides a subtext of irony and humor. In her drawings, sculptures, and installations she challenges the limits, borders if you will, of acceptable artistic vocabulary, often violating conventional approaches to gender and sexuality by elevating the role of bodily materials such as hair, teeth and bones to surprising heights. For her installation at the Broad, Sen uses false teeth and dental polymer to create a monumental hanging sculpture that spans eighty feet, extending from the ceiling to the gallery floor. It is a perfect fit for the Zaha Hadid designed structure, an organic, irregular linear bisection of the museum’s unique inner geometry – at once a spine and industrial beam, epic scale with a fleshy-pink hue, startling and disarmingly pretty.
Ms. Sen will be in Ann Arbor to give a talk called “Body/Nobody” on Friday, April 11, from 4-5:30pm at the School of Social Work Building, Room 1636. In it she will present and discuss selections of her work from the last ten years. Supported by the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the UM School of Art & Design, it was organized by the Center for South Asian Studies in conjunction with the UM School of Literature, Science and Art’s Theme Semester “India in the World.”
“Body/Nobody,” Friday, April 11, from 4-5:30pm at the lovely School of Social Work Building, 1080 S University Ave., Room 1636. 734-764-3309. mithusen.com
Running through Sunday, April 6 at the Ann Arbor Art Center is “DECOMPOSE/RECOMPOSE,” an exhibition of four Michigan-based artists working across diverse media. The show is curated by Joe Levickas who brought together four artists with a shared interest in the concepts of breakdown and transformation, indeed transmogrification, the process of changing from one substance or object into another. The artists create their work alluding to various processes seen in nature: decay, death, decomposition, disintegration, regrowth and, my favorite, overgrowth. In doing so, the artists manipulate a wide range of materials and end up mimicking natural aesthetics. Rachel Hefferan is a sculptor and fiber artist from Grand Rapids. Much of her work includes crocheted forms evocative of seed pods, gourds and dead leaves. Tom Pyrzewski of Hamtramck is a sculptor who combines trash and detritus, creating complex pseudo-organic forms that imply weathered animal carcasses and pseudo-Cambrian sea life. Breanne Sherwood is an Ypsilanti-based fiber artist putting found organic materials and hand-dyed fabrics in combination to allude to the surfaces of feathers, rust and earth. Katherine St. Clair is a painter living in Ann Arbor. She incorporates collaged photographs and drawings of plants and animals into her paintings, thereby deriving a rich tapestry of texture and image, at once abstract and figurative. This isn’t your father’s Ann Arbor Art Center.
Runs through Sunday, April 6. Ann Arbor Art Center, 117 W. Liberty. 734-994-8004. annarborartcenter.org