‘Front Yard Zoo’ Exhibit Makes Statement on Society

front yard zoo 2By Ericka Lemus

“Front Yard Zoo: Controlling Nature” is an art exhibit that addresses the nature of people who buy plastic lawn ornaments of animals to display in their yards instead of simply celebrating nature that exists there.

The exhibit created by artist Roscoe Wilson is on display at College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus’ Artspace Gallery.

Wilson explores how people buy lawn ornaments to display in their front yards and think it’s cute, but it would become bothersome to some if live animals roamed around those same front yards.

“Growing up in the Midwest, I was aware of the phenomenon of placing plastic creatures in one’s lawn,” Wilson said. “I felt it was ridiculous and needed to be investigated. Plastic is artificial and enduring and when we buy a lawn ornament, we are consuming nature.”

Wilson is a professor of art at Miami University Hamilton Campus in Ohio. According to Wilson’s resume, his works were exhibited at several-dozen shows across the country. He is an award-winning artists placing second place in a couple competitions including The Edge of Excess sponsored by Foundry Art Center and the GHA Exhibition run by Fitton Center for Creative Arts. Some of Wilson’s national juried exhibitions were shown at colleges and universities including “It is Getting Hot out Here” and “Stunt Our Growth.”

His most recent solo show “Front Yard Zoo” is on display at CSN till March 19.

Wilson worked on this display for many years. He has been collecting plastic decorative animals since 2003 and was inspired to show them in a way where the animals are defenseless and caged down.

4aAn example of one of the pieces in this exhibit is a duck nailed down to stay still and keep the pose. Other animals such as a deer, bear, frog and bunny are encased in wooden structures that keep them from being free.

“The work alludes to nature having a sublime quality or perfect postcard sentimentality and that it can be captured, frozen and controlled to benefit humans,” Wilson said. “Nailing a plastic squirrel to a tree that is full of actual unruly squirrels is absurd yet it happens all the time.”

Jeff Fulmer, coordinator in the Department of the Fine Arts at CSN, said, “It wasn’t what I expected.” Wilson’s art is unusual and can make student think. That is one of the goals for selecting exhibits for campus.

Rowena Cajala, CSN student, said, “The art piece where the bunnies are all staring at a golden egg represents something that controls the bunnies to where they are easily tricked and it shows the pent-up emotion before they are harmed. The golden egg represents an object, action or thing that mesmerizes the animal, later resulting in the animal being harmed.”

Wilson was asked if he is planning on expanding this current project. He said, “I tend to gravitate back to it, reworking old pieces, scavenging lawn ornaments from old works to make new ones. For some reason, it keeps pulling me back.”

front yard zoo 1“Ultimately, visual art is a social experience,” Wilson said. “I am creating work and putting it out into the world where it can be understood, misunderstood, liked, disliked, purchased or completely disregarded.”

To check out his other projects, go to www.roscoewilson.com.

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