Waylon Dobson, Oct. 3-28, 2003, at Risk Press Gallery, 8533 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, Ca. 90069
Waylon Dobson, whose new sculptures adorn the walls of Risk Press Gallery in Los Angeles, advocate grace and a sly, sometimes dark rapture. In an art world overrun with superficiality -- the kind of contentless scapes that collectors purchase to keep the tide of homogeneity pounding on our shores -- Dobson's blissfully odd sculptures of bones and skinned animals offer a welcome panacea.
Made of glazed white clay, these intimate sculptures are charged with historical and vaguely religious associations, though none are overt. In Inherit, a white femur bone is attached to the wall. Lodged at the base of the bone is a large bronze nail of the kind you might find in Jesus' day. The piece resonates on several levels simultaneously. This could be a relic from an archeological site elegantly presented as an example of the brutal travails of ancient man. The nail at the base operates as armature, as though the bone grew around it.
Another astonishing piece is a human spine made of small bronze fists. The piece takes the literal shape of a spine, and as we move up the vertebrae, the fists get smaller. This piece is particularly powerful given today's social and political climate, and stands as a symbol of what it might take to be alive today -- a clenched fist at each interval holding us up.
Dobson's work is sumptuous and scary, dark and strange, oneric and wild -- and so alive, these risks were definitely worth the taking.
EVE WOOD is the author of the book of poetry, Love's Funeral (Cherry Grove Collections, University of Cincinnati).