Elizabeth King: Homonculus

April 10 – May 22, 1999


Kent Gallery is pleased to present an installation of sculpture and videography by Elizabeth King.  Drawing upon early automata, the history of articulated mannequins, and the alchemist’s homunculus, these new works have been over five years in the making. 

Our traditional systems for representing the body have evolved through a range of separate disciplines, each with its own functional and aesthetic philosophy. A sculptor, a surgeon, an engineer, a magician might each address the human hand, but with distinctly different forms of attention.  It is in finding the zones where these could overlap that I would locate my own impulse to make art.

The exhibition will be comprised of five works that will explore the nature of appearances through prolonged scrutiny and dissection, and examine how the elements can function further.  The movable sculptures have been used in stop-motion film animation giving the works a second life (involuntary or unconscious or ruminative gestures).

“ I am fascinated by stories and myths of the double, the doppelganger, and the alchemist’s artificial man: the homunculus.  According to certain medieval texts, the Jewish golem can only be brought to life during its maker’s state of ecstasy. The word ecstasy means literally ‘to be beside oneself’.

King received her BFA and MFA degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute in the early seventies.  After spending several years in New York, she became an Associate Professor of Sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University, ranked in 1997 by U.S. News and World Report as one of the five best MFA art programs in the country.   To further her ideas combining sculpture and videography in 1996/97, King became a Fellow in the Visual Arts at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Cambridge.

This exhibition is concurrent with the publication of a new book entitled ATTENTION'S LOOP: A Sculptor's Reverie on the Coexistence of Substance and Spirit, which is being published by Abrams Publisher's, New York.  The book contains 88 pages with text by Elizabeth King and photography by Katherine Wetzel in collaboration with the artist's poses and choreography.  Pupil, the sculpture featured in Attention's Loop is in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.