Umlauf Prize 2015: Murmurs Ryan Hawk & Gracelee Lawrence
The 2015 UMLAUF Prize Juror, Suzanne Deal Booth, selected Ryan Hawk and Gracelee Lawrence from an impressive group of candidates.
For this exhibition, Ryan Hawk and Gracelee Lawrence created site-specific work in response to Charles Umlauf’s twentieth century sculptures. Hawk’s video installation features a male figure taking the pose of Umlauf’s iconic 1960 Spirit of Flight bronze sculpture. The video captures a dark green/grey colored polymer slowly flowing down the subject’s bound body, with intercuts of the original Spirit of Flight. Lawrence’s work engages both Umlauf’s Lovers V and The Kiss by reinterpreting the figures as enormous fiberglass fruit fountains installed in the Garden near the original sculptures.
Umlauf’s secular and religious sculptures align with the dominant culture’s mindset during the 20th century. Although totally different in execution, Hawk’s and Lawrence’s works function similarly as alternatives to the heterosexual masculine ideology underlying Umlauf’s art. Hawk reinterprets Spirit of Flight through a Queer lens. Lawrence’s installation engages concepts of fertility and fecundity that shed light on Umlauf’s representation of women and his valorization of men. Although the artists take inspiration from perspectives that were marginalized in the last century, Hawk and Lawrence both encourage new possibilities for a variety of 21st century viewers.