Arts Desk

Next at Transformer: Lauren Rice’s “Heirlooms”

Detail of Lauren Rice's "Heirlooms" installation

The Transformer Gallery announced yesterday its closure through Feb. 5 while its next exhibit is assembled. With "Alptraum!", a collection of often nightmareish paintings, etchings, and other works on paper by roughly 100 artists, headed to the the Cell Project Space in London, the Logan Circle gallery will next host an installation by the Detroit-based sculptor Lauren Rice.

"Heirlooms" is the artist's first solo show in the D.C. area. (She has contributed to Transformer collections in the past, including a piece for the 2008 exhibit "Paper Trail.") Rice's work tends to depict twisted images of gardens and flowers, contorting their femininity and romanticism into something a bit more vulgar, a Transformer staffer told me. For "Heirlooms" Rice is using a melange of found objects including newspaper scraps, phone books, and discarded window screens. Cement and wooden dowels provide the structural integrity.

Rice moved to Detroit after earning an M.F.A. at American University, and while she didn't originally envision herself in the Motor City, she told the Detroit art blog Perfect Laughter in December 2009, its decaying grandeur is "really interesting visually, both ugly and beautiful." It's not difficult to see why this plays so well into Rice's approach. Building grotesque flowers and sprawling installations out of discarded items, Rice's work captures organic beauty from industrial decline.

"Heirlooms" opens Feb. 5 at Transformer Gallery. 1404 P Street NW. (202) 483-1102.

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