Erin K Drew's show Metamorpher at Big Car Gallery in Indianapolis showcased various recent artwork including sculptural installation, site-based painting, and framed works. Combining what appears to be innocent, cartoon-like iconography on the surface with more cynical undertones, Drew says that this body of work is helping her to get the past out of her system and move on with her life. "There's a lot of oversimplification of imagery," she says to explain the juxtaposition between childlike forms and dark emotional backdrops. The work evokes the imagery of the Tom Tom Club's cover art and the work of artists such as Bruce Nauman, Christopher Wool and Richard Prince through its reference to neon signs, its semiotic wordplay and its sharp sense of wit and humor. Some of the images below showcase Drew's artistic process insofar as it flows from source research material to the artist's notebook and finally to the gallery wall. For an added bit of irony, Drew utilized rejected blends of house paint for the wall mural in this exhibition, slyly mirroring her feelings of dismay.
Gender relations are also at stake here; Drew appropriates the form of the obelisk and completely flips its usual connotations. Whereas such monuments usually are phallic and serious in nature and commemorate honor, success, and actualized events, Drew's monument to boys she has had crushes on is feminine and playful and commemorates dishonor, defeat, and fantasy.
"All binaries are illusory," she is quick to point out.
Drew's play on cliches and wording in Metamorpher is quite clever. "OPPORTUNITY" spelled out in metallic birthday party banner style lettering ends up signifying two words even though only one is written ("Golden Opportunity").
"Party of One" simultaneously plays on restaurant reservation speak and conjures loneliness and self-celebration.
The "Liquid Courage" piece is especially interesting because it appropriates the iconography of liquor store signs that is all too commonplace and renegotiates its signification to endorse and broadcast what is normally taboo and shameful, the notion of needing liquor to have courage. Liquor, a commodity, is replaced by liquid courage, a form of existential way-finding. Drew muses that she is "Facing my problems, but also not facing. There's a veil."
Drew succeeds in making what is truly a very personal body of work both accessible and thought-provoking to a wide audience through her wit, light/dark humor and reference to popular vernacular. Her command of multiple mediums is impressive and her use of colors and source material is unexpected and unique. I had a conversation with Erin in two parts about her show. See what she had to say: