By Kenneth Best for UConn Today
Marketing replicas bouncing in the air outside of shopping malls or car dealerships and giant balloons of cartoon characters floating along the route of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade are forms of inflatable art familiar to many.
But ever since pop artist Andy Warhol used metalized plastic film to seal in helium and oxygen for his work “Silver Clouds” in 1966, artists have explored ways to expand inflatables to a higher level of art, the kind of inflatable sculpture created by a range of artists currently on display in “Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art” at the William Benton Museum of Art through July 31.
The traveling exhibition was developed with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts by Carrie Lederer, curator of exhibitions at the Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, Calif., who first saw Momoyo Torimitsu’s giant bunny rabbits, titled “Somehow I don’t Feel Comfortable,” in 2003 at a museum in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“My son at the time was quite young, and I remember him falling back on his heels as we entered the room with these two huge, inflatable bunnies,” Lederer says. “All of us stopped in our tracks when we saw these large, ominous bunnies. I thought, ‘There is a show in this piece.’”