Paul Villinski: Farther

Taubman Museum of Art
June 16, 2017 – July 15, 2018

New York-based sculptor Paul Villinski, (American, born 1960) sculptures and installations engage with subjects both sublime and neglected. Influenced by a lifelong concern for environmental issues, his work reinvisions seemingly useless and discarded materials, often trash found on the streets of New York City, into uplifting and humanizing works of art. Thirteen major sculptures and installations created over the past few decades explore recurrent themes in the artist’s work: flight, community, the environment, and more intimate narratives such as addiction and recovery, all united by Villinski’s central preoccupation: transformation. He states, “I’m fascinated by the simple alchemy of transforming humble, discarded materials into things of beauty and layered meaning. This speaks to the idea of potential, of the surprising things that can be done with imagination, commitment, risk, and hard work — with enough love.” Villinski’s work is quietly reverent and reflective. Flocks of reclaimed aluminum-can butterflies in “Arcus” and “Gyre,” and wings feathered with gleaming knives in “Aerialist” evoke motifs of flight, metamorphosis and rebirth. His progressive installation, “Castaways”, features an accumulating flock of birds made in conjunction with the Roanoke community. Molded from pulped junk paper, “Castaways” speaks to the excessive and frivolous waste of our natural resources. In “Quilt” and “Comforter,” Villinski grapples with the topics of addiction and recovery using symbolic materials such as belts, liquor bottles, and gloves to evoke feelings of chaos, fear, protection, and communal healing. Throughout the exhibited works, a sense of magic and otherworldliness pervades commonplace objects. Elements of nature perform quasi-heroic acts and offer benedictions: butterflies levitate and swirl from doors, ladders and chairs, while birds morph from obsolete LP records, taking flight like musical notes. Created with acute mechanical finesse, Villinski’s deft creatures astound and lead the viewer to, in the artist’s words, “an exploration of the possible, at the heart of which is hope.” Villinski has created studio and large-scale artworks for more than three decades. Born in York, Maine in 1960, he is the son of an Air Force navigator. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1984. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions nationally, recently including the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas; the Blanton Museum, University of Texas in Austin; and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, New York. His work is widely collected by institutions including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; and the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Serenbe Institute in Georgia; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; the Millay Colony, New York; and the Villa Montalvo Arts Center, California among others. He is represented in New York by Morgan Lehman Gallery; in New Orleans by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, by Tayloe Piggot Gallery; and in Palm Desert, California, by Austin Art Projects. An experienced pilot of sailplanes, paragliders and single-engine airplanes, Villinski lives and works in New York.

“Paul Villinski: Farther” was curated by Amy Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections, Taubman Museum of Art. This exhibition was supported in part by the Foundation for Roanoke Valley.

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