“I Am Human,” an exhibition of mixed media sculptures by Southeast Missouri State University 2020 alumna Maria Esswein, is on display virtually and being hosted by Southeast’s Catapult Creative House.
The exhibition, which features artwork from Esswein’s graduating senior Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) exhibition, is now available online to the public at mariaesswein.squarespace.com/bfaexhibition through Aug. 27. This exhibition, originally scheduled to be in the main gallery at Catapult from June 5-Aug. 27, was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I Am Human” explores the complexities of identity in a three-dimensional platform, as there are many facets that make up human beings. Each sculpture embodies a character, creating a very relatable and ambiguous person. They also blur the lines of masculine and feminine features, despite the sculptures having traditional male or female names. The goal is to create an androgynous character in whom the viewer can see themselves. Everyone is made up of more than one defining trait, be it good or bad.
The sculptures in this exhibition are over-exaggerated, personified creatures, varying in palette from bright and bold to muted and mundane. However, the one attribute that connects all of them is that they are clothed. Their outfits, like those we wear, express our nature and interests, which somewhat speak to ourselves.
For example, the sculpture “Richard” appears very bold and upfront –his dirtied-up overalls are mixed with a vibrant, yellow tree limb sprouting from his nose and mouth, as if he is dead set on telling you what he thinks. While this piece takes on a masculine identity by name, it is important to note that anyone regardless of gender can have similar traits.
Esswein mixes and matches the dingy overalls with a black fluffy boa and a colorful lamp to create a new life for this figure. Each piece speaks volumes on how life events mold us into the people we are today. None of the art is meant to be perfectly neat and clean, but to represent and celebrate the strange beauty in each identity.
Catapult Creative House is located at 612 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri, but is currently closed due to COVID-19. For more information, contact Leah Powers at email@example.com or (573) 290-5372.