From August 5-26, 2022, New City Arts presents Friction: an exploration of impediments to interdependence, an exhibition of work by Lily Erb. This exhibition is presented by The FUNd at CACF.
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With her exhibition of vibrant large-scale soft sculpture and carpeted, furry surfaces, Lily Erb creates a playful interactive space for exploration and imagination. The experience is undeniably delightful—intentionally so. Lily’s sculptures hearken back to beloved Sesame Street characters—those strange, lovable creatures who have helped generations of children navigate the complexities of the world they inhabit.
In a time when the reality and necessity of our interdependence is acutely apparent, Lily asks us to examine personal and interpersonal conflicts that impede ability to build the kind of community that will enable us to survive. She asks the questions in a surreal environment, inviting visitors to interact with creature-like sculptures in a dreamlike space—making it a soft place to land.
“The Human Contradiction held them.
Intelligence at the service of hierarchical behavior. They were not free.” ― Octavia E. Butler, Adulthood Rites
As I explore community dynamics in a time of societal reimaging, I am interested in points of friction in unequal power relationships. Through a Science Fiction lens, I ask: how do individuals react to discord while building the interdependent relationships necessary for thriving communities? When conflict does arise what is the best way to react—or the worst? What existing societal dynamics encourage conflict or need conflict to exist? Identifying historical patterns of individualistic actions and motivations allows us to see where our behaviors impede the deepening of interdependent relationships. This project seeks not to offer solutions but to highlight areas where reexamination is necessary.
Science Fiction allows a defamiliarization of known scenarios and social systems. To create a comforting defamiliarization, I reference Sesame Street, a place where many young people learn from creatures that resemble stuffed animals—a valuable tool in early development of self-soothing techniques. This work brings together a serious exploration of societal roles and children’s entertainment aesthetics to allow for an evaluation of how hierarchy negatively affects human dynamics.
The process of creating these performance pieces deals with interdependence in practice as much as the final product does metaphorically. These performances are reliant on three other people’s participation, thus creating a relationship of interdependence between myself and the other. This process uses a focus on relationship harmony, collective resources, and learning through interaction to create group success.
ABOUT LILY ERB
Lily Erb is a queer maker from Charlottesville, Virginia. Lily received her BFA from Hampshire College in Sculpture and Printmaking in 2013 and her MFA from Ohio University in Sculpture + Extended Practice Lily spent the first eight years of her creative career working almost exclusively with steel after signing up for a welding class in college and falling in love with welding. She has been focusing on creating soft sculpture after a discovered love of sewing while in residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in the fall of 2018. Performance became a part of her practice while in graduate school. Other residencies Lily attended are Yellow Bird Art Park, Wabi Sabi Thrift Store, and Paducah A.I.R. Public art pieces include decorative panels for The Paramount, Vita Nova, Tastings, and Splendora's as well as Extended Chaos in Paducah, KY and Clothing Rack Bike Rack in Moab, UT.
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