Dichotomy best describes the work of Herb Parker and Yvette Dede, two artists exhibiting at the Fayetteville Museum of Art in the exhibit titled Fused and Divided: Life and Art. Both artists are from Charleston, S.C., and bring qualities of contradiction and circumstance to their work.
    Herb Parker is best known for his large scale installations of habitat-like-dwellings covered with natural materials to evoke a renewed look at the environment, space and place. In this exhibit, the majority of his sculptures are relatively small compared to his site-specific installations. {mosimage}
    The largest sculpture in the exhibit is titled Fatherhood. In this work, two heads float atop tri-wheeled, bicycle-like, open forms. In contrast to the open form of the wheels, the heads are massive, yet hollow, their eyes are empty holes. Haunting, as in all of his work, visitors to the museum will enjoy the experience of trying to unravel meaning.
    As you go through the exhibit, visitors will see how Parker has repeatedly used chains, surface rust and wheels as a theme to situate the human figure. The situations according to Parker are “works that reflect the insecurities, fears and exhilarations of life; fueled by social, political ideas, as well as interpersonal and familial relationships.” Unlike his serene installations, the exhibit at the Fayetteville Museum of Art errs to the side of corrosion and antagonism, yet is still relatively playful.
    Perhaps it is the sense of play in Parker’s work that is the most insidious. We don’t respond to actual horror or anxiety, but always the possibility that is present. That is the attractiveness of Parkers’ work, he doesn’t describe anxiety, he evokes it.
    For this exhibit, Parker’s work ranges from the oversized in scale to doll-size. He uses found objects, mixed media, carved or found wood and cast metal to conjure meaning — a mix of spirituality and humanism, humor and horror, each piece alluding to the dichotomy of a situation.
    Examples of the human condition are in the sculptures titled Son of the South #1 and Son of the South #2. In both works, rust is used as a color and element of time. In Son of the South #1, an undraped, rusted figure stands doll-like, wrapped in an enlarged rusted chain; the head of the figure is a rusted revolver. At the end of the chain is a rusty wheel.
    Similarly, Son of the South #2 is rust in color; the rust covers a child’s toy pickup truck. A serpentine brown rod snakes upward from the back of the pickup truck, covered in shell remnants, the rod then bends over, towards the viewer, to reveal an obscure human hand.
    In the sculpture titled Dialogue, two heads, a male and a female, mouths open, glass eyes with a distant gaze are connected by a chain from the tongue of each head. As in many of the other works, the two heads are mounted on wheels. Complex and situational, we are uneasy about the probability (past and present) that exists in each of Parker’s works.
    Parkers’ work was consistent in content, material and his investigation of the human condition. Opposite to Parker, the work of Yvette Dede is somewhat confusing in content.
    When visitors enter the museum, they will see a series of True Value brown bags on the wall. Dede has taken the time to draw an image on each bag in graphite pencil; then she placed a symbolic object that appears out of the top of the bag.
    In the work titled Beach, a graphic image of the beach is drawn to look as if someone is standing, approaching a pair of stairs that lead towards the shore, where we can look out into the ocean. The red letters of True Value lie just beneath the graphic drawing. Three white-pointed shapes are in a line above the edge of the bag, emerging from the bag.
    The True Value bag series is visually and conceptually pleasing. Dede explains it clearly: “The logo provides a conceptual base that helps direct the choice of image and form. Generally, the bag is a container for purchased goods. Yet, I wanted to suggest that most things — whether it is natural material or concept — might be transformed into a fictitious product . . . it is an observation of how commodities reflect what our society values.”
    Other than the bag series, Dede’s work in the exhibit is convoluted with a variety of meanings. On one wall, visitors to the museum will see large descriptive drawings of objects — a bell, glove and fishing lure — on plain and underdeveloped backgrounds. Compared to the other drawings in the exhibit, I didn’t’ get it.
In Egg Meditation, an entirely different series hangs among the highly rendered drawings of objects and drawings on brown bags. Egg Meditation is a series of nine small drawing framed within weathered wooden shadow boxes. Each delicate drawing is an interpretation of “egg-ness.” Like a Mandala, each drawing is the essence of what the form means to the artist — radiating and mystical.
    {mosimage}In exact opposite of Parker, Dede’s body of work is inconsistent in meaning. Upon some reflection, and although she did not state this, I only felt as if Dede was trying to convey a series of drawings about memories. What does resonate in all of Dede’s drawing is the essence of what drawing can be. The essence of drawing is associated with intimacy and investigation. No matter what the style or subject, we use drawing to denote ourselves.
    This is an exhibit that most visitors to the museum will enjoy. Fused and Divided: Life and Art will remain at the Fayetteville Museum of Art until July 13. For hours of operation, call the museum at 485-5121.
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