Women and Welty

By GREG COOK  |  February 10, 2011
art by Gloucester artist Rachel Welty
KARAOKE WRONG NUMBER Rachel Perry Welty makes absurdist conceptual art about the consumerist junk that inundates contemporary American life. 
Gloucester artist Rachel Perry Welty's exhibit "24/7," organized by deputy director Nick Capasso and curatorial fellow Lexi Lee Sullivan at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, shows where Pop Art has gone in the wake of Rosler, Mierle Laderman Ukeles's '70s homemaker performances, and the accumulationist (plus Martha Stewart) æsthetic of contemporary Minimalists like Tara Donovan.

Welty makes absurdist conceptual art about the consumerist junk — email spam, twist ties, store muzak — that inundates contemporary American life. In the video Karaoke Wrong Number, she lip-synchs to wrong-number messages she's received. You laugh at how well her face becomes the various callers, especially as their mistakes dawn on them. Elsewhere, she transcribes the lyrics of songs she's heard in a liquor store or an orthodontist's office into cut-out-magazine-letter ransom notes of canned romantic longing. But when she leans toward data processing — like 37 pages of her son's medical bill obscured behind a code of colored dots — the art loses its emotional core and grows tedious.

Her 2010 Lost in My Life photos show Welty dressed in outfits that camouflage her into backgrounds of cereal boxes, bread twist ties, Styrofoam take-out cartons. In the best one, she chameleons into the background because her clothes, her tote bag, everything is covered with a fabric she printed from price tags. It's a magical disappearing act in which she and consumerism beautifully, unsettlingly become one.

SLIDESHOW: 'Seductive Subversion' at Tufts, '24/7' at DeCordova

SEDUCTIVE SUBVERSION
TUFTS UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY, 40R TALBOT AVE, MEDFORD | THROUGH APRIL 3

RACHEL PERRY WELTY: 24/7
DECORDOVA SCULPTURE PARK AND MUSEUM, 51 SANDY POND RD, LINCOLN | THROUGH APRIL 24

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Related: Slideshow: 'Seductive Subversion' at Tufts, '24/7' at DeCordova, Slideshow: Andy Goldsworthy and Ursula von Rydingsvard at the DeCordova, Living history, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Rachel Perry Welty, Tufts university art gallery, Art,  More more >
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