June 30th 2018
July 21st 2018
Sam Shoemaker’s Playpen is both a literal container for growth and exploration and an extended metaphor of the dystopian present we often find ourselves living in. A screened enclosure encapsulates a world of curiosities and buried histories. Several of the objects in Playpen take inspiration from Ed Leedskalnin and his Coral Castle, an unfinished home built for a lost lover from chiseled blocks of oolite limestone.
Enter the North American native, vanessa cardui or painted lady butterfly, the vulnerable larvae who are subjected to the conditions of this manufactured landscape. During the run of the exhibit, these larvae will gestate in the gallery, cocooning, transforming, and emerging anew to be released into the wild, analogizing the resilience of life. It is through this process we see life do what it always does in spite of all intervention, persist.
While seeing the large stone recreations of crescent moons and spinning ringed planets from the original Coral Castle, one can almost see the beauty in Leedskalnin’s fantasy, appreciating the sculptures for their de-contextualized aesthetic merits. If not for the dark understory of Leedskalnin’s intentions and the burgeoning life upon it, one might find these objects “cute”, innocent, or crafty. Leedskalnin’s work is a ruin of a failed utopia. These works can be seen as a reminder of blindness and narrowness. Our rapid growth leaves us in a perpetual state of disruption, uprooting, and uncertainty. The heterogenous pairings of life and landscape are both challenge and opportunity.