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L. Kent Wolgamott: Everyday objects get new view in Liana Owad's 'Everything, All the Time'
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L. Kent Wolgamott: Everyday objects get new view in Liana Owad's 'Everything, All the Time'

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Pick up a bottle of “Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner” or grab off a shelf some “Herbal Essence,” “Prell” or “Dial,” and you’re not likely to be paying any attention to the shape and design of the plastic bottles and bar of soap.

Liana Owad wants to change that -- by reproducing those objects in wood or transforming them into ghostlike three-dimensional vacuum-formed plastic. As can be seen in “Everything, All the Time,” her Lux Center for the Arts exhibition, she succeeds.

The angled neck of the Clorox bottle becomes elegant when seen in wood -- topped with a plastic nozzle -- and the word “Dial” floats on a painted background, pushed forward by light streaming through the clear plastic that has formed the shape of the soap.

Owad, who received her M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last year and is coordinator of Innovation Studio at Innovation Campus and a Lux artist in residence, isn’t doing anything all that new in creating alternate versions of everyday objects.

In 1961, pop artist Claes Oldenburg, the sculptor of “Torn Notebook,” constructed altered but still recognizable objects, such as a 7-Up can, Converse tennis shoes and sandwiches for his installation “Store.”

Three years later, Andy Warhol made his “Brillo Box,” creating a wooden version of the soap pad box that was indistinguishable from the cardboard original.

Owad’s work with the wooden bottles lands between Oldenburg and Warhol, unquestionably altered -- she doesn’t paint the bottles in an attempt to fool the eye -- but with the form precisely reproduced

Unlike Oldenburg, Conrad Bakker and the other artists who reproduce everyday objects in different materials, Owad isn’t particularly interested in critiquing consumerism or the nature of art and the art world.

Instead, she aims at rearranging the perception of the objects she reproduces and turns them into ghostlike forms.

“We never really investigate the shape and design of these items beyond the instructions or warnings,” she writes in her artist’s statement. “We rush through chores. The altered sculptures still have expectations placed on them to perform in their known way, desiring a certain result. Shampoo bottles should hold shampoo.

“However, when alterations are made to the familiar object, we are pushed out of our comfort zone to further analyze the objects.”

In addition to drawing on Warhol and Oldenburg, Owad’s exhibition is also unquestionably Duchampian, with its introduction of three altered rocking chairs.

“Square,” “Sensible” and “Secure” are each reduced in height and made far narrower than normal rocking chairs, manipulated to alter the way they are viewed in much the same manner as Marcel Duchamp’s attaching a “Bicycle Wheel” to a stool to create his 1913 “readymade.”

The other found object in “Everything, All the Time” is a wooden ironing board on top of which sits a stack of folded “clothes” made of grout -- a piece that combines the Duchampian object, Warhol’s precise reproduction and Oldenburg’s use of unconventional material. It’s titled “Monotony,” the show’s most overt bit of commentary.

The formed plastic pieces are very much the opposite of the wooden and found object works. Viewing the clear 3-D outlines of a sandwich in “Lunch" or a lumpy “Wash Cloth,” the mind involuntarily fills in the missing object.

That, too, provides a new way to look at the clothespins and other items around which the plastic was molded, as Owad succeeds in her effort to put a new focus on everyday items in the well-executed, very effective “Everything, All the Time.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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