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The sculptures are ash wood — the framing covered with narrow strips that resemble the laths they used to nail to wall studs as a foundation for plaster before this method was supplanted by plasterboard. Sometimes his strips also resemble the furrows of farm fields. Hollibaugh carefully aligns or misaligns the strips to create vibrating rhythms. He does it all with the marvelous polished craftsmanship of studio furniture making, but also a bit of its homogenization. Which makes sense because he earned a master's in furniture design from RISD in 2003. (He had a studio in Providence, before setting up his current shop in Douglas, Massachusetts.) The results are fresh, elegant, Shaker simplicity. But his barns, crosses, and American flags also feel a bit like stereotypes, or Rorschach tests onto which we can project whatever feelings we have about rural America.

Perhaps the signature divide in America today is between big city America and small town, rural America. That's really what we're talking about when we talk about red versus blue America. We've long romanticized rural America as noble, pure, Christian, straight, white, and — in Sarah Palin's phrasing — "the real America." And we've demonized the melting pot urban centers where we live as messy, dirty, atheist (or Jewish or Moslem), gay, corrupt, and un-American. As Jon Stewart acidly joked: "I bet Bin Laden feels like a real asshole now" for attacking fake America. The point is, these archetypes call out for more complex exploration. To put it another way: if you're going to take on symbols with this much voodoo magic, simplicity isn't enough.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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