Reader review: Genetic experimentation spawns creative exhibit


June 6th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Pieceable Kingdom shows Omaha-based artist and poet Troy Muller’s deep, humorous and sometimes twisted fascination with scientific genetic experimentation via his skillfully crafted paintings.

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“Seventy percent of raw chocolate is genetically modified…Medical science may use genetically modified pigs to grow human organs…Blood, milk, mucus could one day replace silicon ingredients in computer chips and cell phones…”

Over a dozen articles researched by artist Troy Muller for his MFA poetry thesis at the University of Nebraska Omaha explore “the future of humanity after a technological singularity.”

The articles describe glowing cats, spider web producing goats, human-rabbit hybrids, and computer generated DNA sequences – all proven to be true.

This grey area in genetic experimentation spawned Muller’s exhibit “Pieceable Kingdom” at The New BLK Gallery, where he has transformed the ideas into peculiar, surrealistic, beautifully crafted paintings and sculptures that unite humans, animals, plants, household items and machines. Each playfully—or sardonically–foreshadows the future of life after a genetic revolution.

The show is introduced with two large oils on panels in the shape of the symbol for the atom. “Vanity” displays brightly colored women’s underwear and bras; in “Excess” are crumpled up American dollars. In between the two, lays “Colt .45 (and Round)” a realistic painted sculpture at least ten times larger than the real item. The trio seems to give light to what ridiculousness and potential hazard humans have already concocted with their knowledge, calling to Muller’s continued question—even if we can do something, should we?

"Wonders of the Soil" by Troy Muller, featured in Pieceable Kingdom at the New BLK Gallery.

Through the main gallery, we see further the haunting oddities that too might become familiar with such scientific capabilities.

Large paintings such as “Wonders of the Soil” show various plants and insects with conjoined human parts like a mouth in a pineapple, a foot-banana, eye-flowers, an ear-corn, all floating around in a fish-bowl for us to examine. The carefully crafted frames display the titles as though we are really in a lab, messing further with our perceptions.

Some, such as “Football Fever,” acrylic and oil over basswood, humorously dive into vanity and excess—this one, with straight male’s two stereotypical obsessions—three footballs conjoined with a pinkish, vagina-like hole through the center. “Pacifier,” oil, silver and gold over basswood, displays breasts abutted onto a Budweiser beer bottle.

Others perhaps are more serious, like “The Hatchery,” oil on panel displaying the different stages of a fetus—this one, though, alters between a human and elephant; sometimes so disguised you can’t tell which is which.

Muller plays with household items as in “Aborted Call” with a telephone inside a uterus; man-made food as in “Wonders of the Sky” with ice-cream, pizza and chicken mutilated with bugs and birds; and even monsters as in “Invisible Kingdom” showing an entire-town of marred buildings, plants, vehicles and individuals.

The show comes full circle with “Memento Mori,” (translated in Latin to read “Remember your mortality,”) oil and burnished gold on panel, displays a skeleton laying amongst flies and maggots, reminding us that no matter what scientists may pull off during our lifetime, we all just end up rottin’ in the dirt.

Pieceable Kingdom is open thru June 23 at The New BLK Gallery in Omaha’s Old Market. Artist Troy Muller will give an art talk June 13, 8:30pm at The Indian Oven.

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