Rants & Raves - A Review of Cosmic Bodies by Michael Velliquette
In his lecture preceding the opening night of Cosmic Bodies, Michael Velliquette described an early installation of his, titled The You in the I, as dealing with “homemade cosmology” and a myriad of different elements in a “coextensive space.” Though they may have evolved and perhaps become more refined over the years, both themes are reflected in his current works at the Clough-Hanson Gallery in his show titled Cosmic Bodies. “Homemade cosmology” suggests his attempt to help us realize, accept, or least not fear the vast universe or sublime—through his intensively craft-oriented, vibrant, intricate totem-like creatures made from mundane materials, such as colored scrapbook paper, he creates his own understanding of macro ideas and invites the viewer to do the same. Similarly, just as each piece is fraught with innumerable layers, colors and mixed-media combinations, the show as a whole serves as a “coextensive space,” containing multi-media works, ranging from cut-paper to acrylic and gauche—we too become immediately included and drawn in to his “coextensive space.”
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is greeted with a burst of geometric and wildly colorful conglomerations of basic shapes—take a closer look and each work’s incessant possibilities become instantly apparent, inviting the viewer to engage in a visual and imaginative journey. As its title suggests, the show hosts otherworldly, abstract figures or creatures who appear far more welcoming than threatening, from behind their Plexiglas, wall-mounted display cases. In Sky Supremes 1-9 (2012), countless faces can be discovered within one construction alone, disguised upon first glance by the intricacy and rich detail of the 3-D form. Velliquette works within particular parameters that open a heap of possibilities within his work—of the rudimentary shapes he utilizes, arranges and layers, he creates highly energetic, predominately symmetrical forms of bold color combinations. Grey Guard (2011) explicitly stands out amongst the full-color ones, as it is asymmetrical and the only entirely grayscale piece included in the show, yet maintains uniformity in its vitality and diverse patterns of shapes and shades. Though they are formally confined to the surface of the paper, his 2-D drawings and paintings are equally loaded with various layers and color and shape combinations as his 3-D constructions are. In his Metta Titan series, the totem-creatures, filled with tight, geometric, color-penciled patterns, are surrounded by a galaxy of loose bleeds, blots and penciled in twinkle stars in the background. Though the execution of the two presents a stark contrast, they complement each other within their shared space.
In the “coextensive space” of Cosmic Bodies, Velliquette’s “homemade cosmology” welcomes the viewer to an experience, an entirely new world, complete with an extraordinary visual language executed from some of the most simple of materials. A conversation is opened between the cut-paper sculptures—the works seem to interact with each other, just as we interact with them.
Clough-Hanson Gallery is located on Rhodes College’s campus and run by Hamlett Dobbins. The gallery’s hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5 pm (Closed Sundays, Mondays, and March 9-19 for spring break). Cosmic Bodies will be on exhibition until March 27th.