LSU Union show puts art in strict dimensions

Lucy Landry knew the zippers had potential, but it was five years before the garage sale finds found their way into the perfect project.

The textile artist, having spent the past few years creating her own vision of dolls she calls spirit figures, turned the zippers into something different — an armadillo titled, “Becoming Vulnerable.” It now stands on a pedestal in the LSU Student Union Gallery’s “20X20X20 National Compact Competition and Exhibition,” which runs through Wednesday, June 25. The show features work by 54 artists from throughout the nation, 15 representing Louisiana.

It’s also the gallery’s first show after a yearlong renovation.

The rules of “20X20X20” are simple: entries could be created in any medium as long as they did not exceed 20 inches in any dimension.

Landry’s armadillo, her first entry in this annual competition, was chosen by juror Shana Barefoot, collections and exhibitions manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Atlanta.

“I came up with the idea when my friend was going to make an armadillo for the art competition at the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Area,” she says. “I told her I had the perfect thing for her project, and I gave her the zippers. But then she never made the armadillo, so when this competition came around, I took back the zippers and made it.”

Landry started her project by sewing a stuffed figure out of material. His shell is made from hand-spun and dyed wool given to her by a friend, and his claws are from a box of old house keys passed along by her husband’s uncle.

The open zippers became the scales on his back.

“My artwork takes the doll or animal figure from its ancient roots and retells the story in modern form,” she says. “The animal totems and their personalities have the potential to bring insight and relevance to human existence. Stories are universal, yet the retelling of the story is personal.”

Casey Parkinson’s “Fragile 1-21” took first place in the show.

The Hammond artist’s piece is a composite of miniature, two-dimensional ceramic sculptures of clothing on coat hangers. At one point, the hangers are empty.

“My artwork is inspired by recollections of the innocence of my childhood, memories of adolescence and passing of time,” Parkinson writes in her artist’s statement. “A trace of human presence is represented by realistically sculpted garments as surrogates for human experience and emotion. Paring elements that are at odds such as presence and absence or security and distress, my sculptures are often precariously standing or shifting.”

Juror Barefoot awarded $6,000 in cash prizes to winners, which included second place to Montana artist Liza Hennessy-Borkin’s gelatin silver print, “Synchronized Standing,” and third to New York artist Tres Roemer’s analog collage of cut and past paper “Window One.”