Cell Series: Helen Altman
Old Jail Art Center, Albany, TX
June 2 – August 25, 2018
An acclaimed exhibition series, the Cell Series presents living artists and their work. It offers a rare opportunity to encounter work that is attempting to interpret and translate the world we universally experience in unique and surprising ways. The founders of the OJAC were passionate about supporting and showing living artists and their work – the museum continues this important mission with the Cell Series.
Helen Altman’s work centers around common materials, objects, and images of animals and nature. The objects she utilizes in her work often derive from the flawed or discarded. Altman then makes alterations to these objects elevating them into the realm of “art,” thereby forcing interpretation of her choices and manipulations. Handmade moving blankets embellished with animal imagery represent change and impermanence along with insulation and protection. Drawings of animals burned into paper using a small propane torch suggest the fragility of animals and nature. Domestic items like a continuous “weeping” iron among a large pile of men’s shirts references individuals trapped in pre-defined roles.
Her choices in material and imagery are broad; their humor and absurdity lead to deeper interpretations associated with loneliness and isolation among overcrowding, separation, and the loss of individuality and identity.
For the OJAC’s Cell Series exhibition, Altman includes never before seen works from her household “habitat” collection—common objects that started out as personal collection objects of the artist. The installation also incorporates her iconic “altered appliances,” woven wire birds, and a series of seed and spice skulls.