Stux Gallery is pleased to present Suellen Parker’s premiere solo exhibition at the Stux Gallery. Originally commissioned by the New York Times Magazine due to her work’s parody on the cosmetic market, Parker continues her scorchingly irreverent exploration of the ego and its commodification.
Parker’s process is as complex as it is unique. Taking friends and acquaintances as models, she begins with small figurative sculptures, molded by hand out of clay and photographed in specially constructed lighting environments. These images are then digitally layered over and embedded into other photographs from ‘life’, i.e. a set of eyes, a pair of lips, a syringe or a house plant. The final product - high-gloss, richly saturated Fuji flex prints - only hint at the laboured craftsmanship from which they were derived.
The conceptual implications of Parker’s works’ materiality are compounded through their narrative. Parker takes as her subject such mundane clichés as the sunburnt diva, the pill-pushing doctor and the home-based exercise enthusiast. Completing the scene with accompanying troupes, so commonplace they might indeed be rendered invisible, her work makes fantasy out of a shoebox. Our delight in Claymation stories as children is reawaken here in a sardonic realm of mediocrity. Worse yet the characters, which had once inspired soft affection, unsettle us now with their awkward features, lumpy surfaces and most of all the glint of life in their eyes.
By selecting the clean finish of digital photography for her presentation Parker posits viewers as judge and jury on the case of reality vs. the beauty industry. We find the defense to have no defense at all. Calmed by their prescriptions, making no progress with ill-conceived though radical attempts at eternal youth, and unable to connect to those around them these personages are steeped in the futility of vanity and mirror our own flaws. These works truly command empathy as visions of our existential angst over our own phenomenology. The photographs, however, do not sermonize, but merely posit, for our appreciation, the desire for perfection as a manifestation of human nature. Parker’s mastery of her chosen crafts are truly impressive, her vision as an artist is both childlike and sharply ironic. Combined they are not to be missed.