From my review of Tara Donovan at Boston’s ICA:
Turn the corner into one of the final galleries of Tara Donovan’s new show at the Institute of Contemporary Art and you come upon a giant cell-like thing bulging and bubbling down from the ceiling. Its ingredients sound mundane: "Untitled (Styrofoam Cups)" (2004/2008) features hundreds of Styrofoam cups hot-glued side to side and hung from above. But somehow these cups — and you can always tell they’re cups — become something else. They’re lit from behind so they seem to glow. And as you walk below them, they resemble clouds or, as Donovan has said, “ice that covers a lake or ocean, but you’re underneath that ice, looking up.”Read the rest here.
Last month, the Brooklyn sculptor was named a MacArthur Fellow — that is, she received what’s known as the $500,000 “genius grant.” Here you can see why: her sculptures are filled with surprises as she finds the extraordinary in the ordinary, turning masses of quotidian materials like styrofoam cups into gee-whiz sculptures resembling bubbles, rocks, seas, and other forces of nature. They seem like something dreamed up by a mad-scientist Martha Stewart tinkering in her cellar late at night. They radiate the satisfying certainty that of course disposable cups or toothpicks or drinking straws have this amazing secret life when they’re not working their day jobs, and that of course this is what they were always meant to do even though you’ve never seen them do it before.
Tara Donovan, Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, Oct. 10, 2008, to Jan. 4, 2009.
Pictured from top to bottom: Two shots of “Untitled (Styrofoam Cups),” 2003; “Untitled (Plastic Cups)”; “Untitled (Mylar),” 2007; “Nebulous,” 2002; “Untitled,” 2008. All are courtesy PaceWildenstein or Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo of “Untitled (Plastic Cups)” by John Kennard. All other photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.