Monday, July 7, 2008


“piece•work,” the sculpture of Walter Zurko currently exhibited in the Weston Art Gallery is simultaneously beautiful in its minimalist formal aesthetic and uncomfortable as a group of objects pointing towards the utility of hard labor. Almost immediately upon entering the gallery, I was struck by the harshness of the subject. The cages and yokes, easily recognizable forms, seem to present an older more rugged time as objects in a history or anthropology museum. The only thing missing are the drawings or photographs of individuals using these tools in the home or on farms. Still without such labels, these objects evoke entrapment. Even the familiarity of repetition of the bars of the cages or the inviting smoothness of the wood of the yokes does not eliminate the thought of individuals trapped or burdened in their work. I could not help but imagine individuals working with these objects, thus bearing the yokes or trapped in the cuffs that seem to decoratively hang on the gallery wall.
By moving towards more representational works, Zurko similarly traps the viewer in a need to resolve this ambiguity. How do we resolve our desire to admire the tactile aesthetic of objects that painfully hold captive workers in their craft?