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Laurel Roth | Flight of the Dodo

September 5 – October 26, 2013


San Francisco — Gallery Wendi Norris is pleased to announce Flight of the Dodo, a solo exhibition of sculptures by San Francisco artist Laurel Roth. With extinct and endangered animals as subject matter Roth reformulates the conceptual frameworks of interior design and religious artifacts to explore both the moral angst and the humorous ramifications of humanity’s impact on the environment.

Inspired by recent travels in Europe, Roth’s bas-relief wall piece, Flight of the Dodo, 2013 incorporates Renaissance altarpiece design elements and carving techniques to glorify the flightless bird hunted to extinction by sailors in the 17th Century. Cleverly positioning pigeons, a species still thriving on human contact, as seraphim, this work conjures ideas of Judeo-Christian glory but elevates humble and awkward species.

Pigeons also factor in Roth’s ongoing series of Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons, in which intricately carved pigeon statues wear crocheted disguises to look like extinct species with more colorful plumage. But the most stunning of Roth’s birds are her meticulously constructed peacock sculptures, such as La Reina, 2013, which are all hand constructed out of iridescent acrylic fingernails, earrings, and other human beauty products. This series includes individual birds and pairs, often posed in combat, fighting for dominance and mating rights. Their aggressive postures but seductive bling subtly emphasizes the competitive underpinnings of human beautification rituals, with Roth’s characteristic wit.

Hominid skulls and hands, carved from wood, polished to a high shine, and adorned with Swarovski crystals and gold, bring Roth’s animal kingdom closer to home. The rich wood gorilla hand, a new subject in her series of carvings, features a geode inset in the wrist, and these pieces are all presented on custom velvet cushions. Much like human religious relics, these objects, adorned with precious materials, command instant reverence, while asking perhaps uncomfortable questions about the poaching and habitat destruction that threatens our closest genetic relatives.

Flight of the Dodo will bring to light many connections between human desire, our interdependence with the animal world, and the guilt and glory that results from the power to change natural history.