Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor at Block
Both hideous and curiously cute, Sacramento artist Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor’s sculptures look like fuzzy roadkill decaying and coalescing with a pile of illegally dumped rubbish.
In her current show, As Is at Block gallery downtown, her medium is unwanted items that once gave people comfort: castoff bedding textiles, including blankets, afghans, pillows and towels; pantyhose; and derelict sofa cushions, often acquired from thrift stores (even incorporating the stores’ handwritten price tags in the work). Higgins O’Connor layers and builds the farrago of colors and garish textures into giant, cartoonish, rodentlike figures.
These personified, towering sculptures are so well-articulated—like the 7-foot tall “Un-named Object #1,” with its hollowed-eye, zipper-mouth countenance—it feels like the static figures could be roused to life.
The sculptures, formidable in size with dramatic appendages that drape across the floor, are repulsive, endearing and definitely striking. The discarded shambles of which they’re composed are wrapped with jute twine, like roast beef (check out that meaty-looking leg), but the bestial forms are still approachable with their bright colors and whimsical touches, like a faux bird resting on a nose or cut-out flowers placed on their heads.
Higgins O’Connor also has two large cool-hued and delicately rendered drawings of piles of blankets and pillows exhibited on the walls at Block, 1020 10th Street; (530) 409-3304; www.blockdowntown.com. Through November 23.