The Spectacular of Vernacular and a Chicken Named Blinkey
Georgia Titcomb’s Response:
The Spectacular of Vernacular was one of the most interesting and varied exhibitions that I’ve seen at the Ackland. The variation in artistic techniques, mediums, and subjects made the show fascinating and exciting for a viewer spotting the common thread of the American “vernacular” that each artwork showed. Even though some of the references to past artistic movements and American traditions were a little lost on me (having only a limited experience living in the United States*), I could still draw connections and decipher some of the artistic language. For example, I enjoyed the contrast between Shannon Ebner’s exploration of roadside vernacular with her black and white ‘Landscape’ photography and Larry Pittman’s incredible textured and vibrant painting of the billboard and commercial roadside culture of the recent past.
I also enjoyed Marc Swanson’s crystal-covered animal heads that gave a new spin on the traditional trophies adorning fancy game rooms!
Even more interesting was Jeffrey Vallance’s performance pieces. One involved buying a chicken from the grocery store, preserving and burying the bones, and then exhuming the ‘corpse’ ten years later to determine the cause of death! The display of one of the bones created a strangely morbid and humorous mood while I attempted to decipher the cryptic message behind Vallance’s actions.
My main impression from the exhibition was one of appreciation for the variety of cultures and practices that have shaped the American vernacular and continue to shape it today.
Furthermore, the variety of approaches with which artists have explored this is just as incredible and inspirational for viewers and other artists alike!
*Georgia Titcomb grew up in England and moved to the United States in 2004.