Creatures from the Collection

Creatures from the Collection is a selection of sculptural work that draws on the beauty and complexity of nature’s creations to explore themes of masculinity, natural selection, science and current environment issues. This eclectic group of work continues 21c Museum’s mission to exhibit internationally known artists alongside emerging artists. Scottish artist David Mach, known internationally for his intricately crafted matchstick sculptures, and Korean artist Yong Ho Ji, known for his Mutant series made from recycled tires, are exhibited alongside several emerging American artists such as Johnston Foster and Amelia Biewald.

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Foster’s work features prominently in the 21c Collection and was exhibited in 21c Museum’s 2006 inaugural exhibition, Looking Now. In terms of scale, The Keeper, a twelve-legged tiger sculpture, is Foster’s most ambitious work to date. By using recognizable everyday objects, such as traffic cones or ping pong balls, Foster lends a familiarity to his work. However, his fabrication techniques create ambiguous forms. The mystery surrounding his creatures leads viewers to question and imagine a narrative around the work. Is the tiger, with his many legs and eyes, on the run? Perhaps trying to escape the hornets’ nest that is bound in its tail?

Commissioned especially for the Proof On Main installation, Michael Combs’ white leather buck Head of State, joins his earlier work from the collection, Alpha Male. Combs is a fifth generation decoy carver from Long Island. With antlers hand carved from wood and the leather hand stitched, Combs’ work takes his ancestral craft to new levels, addressing themes such as masculinity and our relationship with animals.

Creatures from the Collection is part of an ever-evolving array of fantastical animals and mythological creatures that populate Proof on Main. Though many of the creatures migrate seasonally, Randy, a satyr sculpted by Larry Shank, has a permanent residence at the Proof bar.

Other current creatures include Ken Little’s Bugle and Enrique Gomez de Molina’s I Am The Walrus. Made of thousands of jeweled beetle wings and tusks made from swordfish bills, De Molina’s hybrid creature strives to evoke the natural beauty of all kinds of species. The use of unexpected materials is also found in work in Ken Little’s Bugle, made from dozens of discarded leather shoes and belts. Little re-imagines the creature’s beauty and depicts the animal as something extraordinary. Members of the popular Red Penguin tribe, by Italian Cracking Art Group, also make their way into Proof on a regular basis.

Exhibited Works

  • Amelia BiewaldTon Ton, 2010. Taxidermy, brass chandelier pieces.
  • Michael CombsAlpha Male, 2005. Linden wood, leather, rubber cladding, and zipper.
  • Michael CombsHead of State, 2011. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist and Salomon Contemporary, New York.
  • Johnston FosterThe Keeper, 2010. Traffic barrels, bicycle spokes, garden hose, plastic cutting board, permanent marker.
  • Johnston FosterZebra Trophy, 2005. Vinyl, brooms, fencing.
  • Enrique Gomez de MolinaI Am The Walrus, 2010. Geno-sculpture taxidermy, jewel beetle wings, swordfish bills.
  • Yong Ho JiRam Two Heads 2, 2008. Styrofoam, used tires, steel, wood.
  • Tallur L.N.Bon Appetite, 2006. Wood, burlap.
  • Ken LittleBugle (Blue Elk), 2000. Taxidermy, leather goods, textiles.
  • David MachGolden Rhino, 2004. Wooden safety machines.
  • Larry ShankRandy, 2005. Bronze.

Past Exhibited Works

  • dfc (Tony Moxham and Mauricio Paniagua)Untitled (Nine Animal Heads), 2007. Fiberglass.
  • Micki ThomasPet Portrait Series, 2010-2011. Oil on woodboard.