Annals of public art: bunnies in the lake

(For Virginia, on her Revolutionary Birthday.)

Virginia Transue writes on Facebook about a piece of public art currently on view in Auburn AL:

(#1)

From the university’s museum site, by Auburn Cottie on September 16th, “Self-Portrait as Bunnies” by Alex Podesta:

“What’s the deal with bunnies?” is a question you’ve probably heard around Auburn more than once. Rubberneckers driving down South College Street headed toward Jordan-Hare Stadium will notice two men dressed as bunnies in the lake in front of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, and it has created quite a stir within the community. At first glance some viewers believed there were real men playing dress up in the lake, and some have said they were very intrigued when they first discovered the sculpture.

Alex Podesta’s Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bathers) is a part of the museum’s commitment to presenting outdoor sculpture.

Podesta is an artist from New Orleans, Louisiana, who created this particular sculpture as a part of an ongoing series, in which the artist draws parallels between the role of children’s imagination and how that plays a part in the lives of adults.

The artist, with the bunny-men (which have been installed in other locations):

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Podesta’s statement, from his own site (I am not a fan of artists’ statements of purpose, but this one entertained me):

I was born in North Carolina and got taller in Virginia. As an adult, I became a life-long child of New Orleans. My more formative artistic study took place at the Governor’s Magnet School for the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of New Orleans, where I earned an MFA.

In all of my recent work I have culled the rich fantasies, daydreams, misconceptions and experiences of childhood and re-contextualized them through the filters of adulthood, experience and education. This effort has been made in an attempt to plumb the depths of the creative and comprehensive naiveté of youth; to illustrate, in engaging and serio-comic ways, the role of fantasy, “othering” and conflict in nascent self-awareness; and, through the time honored tradition of solipsistic navel gazing, to pick gently at the loose thread of wistful escapism inherent in a quiet, down hill slide into maturity.

The central character in my works is usually found lost in a reverie of industriousness, paired with doppelganger or other machinations of his childish imagination. In concert, these figures toil at understanding, through experimentation or illustration, existential perplexities ranging from possibly surmountable commonplaces – e.g. What is loneliness and how is it combated? – To metaphysical impossibilities – e.g. Who is this god dude? And is he a hero? Like Superman? Or soldiers? Or knights on horseback? And what does hero mean anyway? Of course, no traction will really ever be gained with these pursuits. These boys and toys and bunny/man chimera will be forever locked in the Sisyphean toil of misapplication, miscomprehension and misunderstanding.

The bunnies are all over the place. Here’s Podesta’s 2014 Self-Portrait as Bunnies (Bad Boy):

(#3)

Bonus from Wikipedia:

The city’s unofficial nickname is “The Loveliest Village On The Plains,” taken from a line in the poem The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith: “Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain…”

And of course it’s the site of Auburn University, which means it supports considerably more cultural institutions than your typical 60,000-person town in the Deep South. Not to mention the university’s pro-level sports teams, especially its famous football team.

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