Visual Arts Program

Saturday, March 3, 2007 — Saturday, April 7, 2007

Paula Jean Cowan


Paula Jean Cowan - <em>Bit</em>
Paula Jean Cowan - <em>Bit</em>

In a series of comedic "bits," Paula Jean Cowan explores the notion of the corpulent body and how to transform its perception from one of vilified liability into asserted, empowered strength.

Rotoscoped from video source material, Cowan's animated vignettes all features a large female character ensnared in a series of situations that depict a variety of failures, foibles, and absurdities. Sampling donuts. Devouring a small, hand-sized person. Salaciously playing with cupcakes. Performing a shell game. Kneading a pillow. Kicking a can. Dancing unselfconscously. Caught in a bear trap.

Cowan's works are deceptive in their simplicity. The performative origins of the pieces lend the works a naturalness, despite their reduction into simplified line drawings that provide only the most economical reference of figure and ground.

The jittering lines that comprise the animations play into the nervous energy and underlying pathos of the bits, though Cowan is not merely enacting herself as the butt of her own jokes. A buoyant unconcern is often readily apparent and we recognize a character that, despite her heavyweight aspect, is ultimately more self-aware (and content) than self-conscious.

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March, 2007 - 2007

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