Niecy Nash
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Artist Spotlight: Deborah Wheeler

Artist Spotlight: Deborah Wheeler

St. Louis sculptor Deborah Alma Wheeler is at her most subversive when appropriating the simplest found objects: water fountain, baseball bat, rearview mirror. She recombines the everyday objects to make giddy 3-D political cartoons that take the viewer on a ride. The work is funny, aggressive, and nervous-making all at once, especially if you have a penis.

Wheeler has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had several pieces collected by museums and galleries, including Tom of Finland’s TOM House in West Hollywood and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction Gallery in Bloomington, Ind. Along with exhibitions, Wheeler has presented her work abroad in 2012 at the Lesbian Lives interdisciplinary conference in Dublin and the Erotic: Gender and Sexuality conference at the University of Oxford in England. Currently, she is a contracted artist, fabricator, and instructor for St. Louis

In Wheeler's words: "Objects, in certain contexts, have the ability to either free or oppress us. By reappropriating American culture through found objects, I question social, political, and cultural issues about sex, gender identity, and marginalized groups. A form of semiotic manipulation occurs through the recontextualization of objects and their conventional spaces. As the signifier is removed from preconceived material frameworks, shifting context exposes charged meaning behind ordinary objects. The viewer begins to perceive my reconstructed objects and environments through a new signified idea or sign, thus creating a poetic metaphor that is both strangely familiar and jarringly awakening. The concept of each sculpture or installation is critical in determining material choice, site specificity, and aesthetic direction. My intentions are to reveal and illuminate a hidden cultural agenda that subjugates individuals and perpetuates false stereotypical norms that accompany sex and gender identity."

You can see her work this June in the exhibit "Body, Body, Bodies…" presented by the Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco, June 7–28. Admission will be free.

Check out her website here. She is currently engaged in a project selling limited-edition posters signed and authenticated to raise funds to present her art work and research at the Lesbian Lives Conference in Brighton, England.

Lezbo 2012 White Picket Fencing Artificial Grassx633 0

The Dream I Woke Up From, 2012, white picket fencing and articifial grass (Detail below)

Lezbo Detailx633 0

Introspectionx633 0

Introspection, 2012, sanitary napkin/tampon dispenser, rearview mirror

Choice Or Chosen Carnival Wheel Weighted Carnival Wheel That Wins Homosexual Everytimex633 0

Choice or Chosen Carnival Wheel, 2012, weighted carnival wheel where 'Homosexual' wins every time (Detail below)

Detail Of Choice Or Chosenx633 0

Ear Muffs Felted Cat Hairx633 0

Ear Muffs, 2007, felted Himalayan cat hair

My Ex-Girlfriend's Ex-Boyfriend, 2012, Everlast punching bag, bean bag

Nothing Runs LIke A Deerex633 0

Womankinn Series: Nothing Runs Like a Deere, 2009, fiberglass, enamel, leather

Yeah, I Played Softball, 2012, catcher's mitt, softball bat

Privilege, 2012, water fountain, signage

Precious Moments Boyand Girlx633 0

Gay Precious Moments, 2012 (women edition), Gay Precious Moments, 2012 (men edition), cast porcelain, fake wedding cake

Straight Trapx633 0

Straight Trap, 2012, shopping cart, gold baby, rope, wood, male armature hiding behind wall.

Will Do Anything For A Carrot 2012 Excerize Bike Dildox633 0

Will Do Anything for a Carrot, 2012, exercise bike, carrot

Family Bed2013 Wood Crutchesx633 0

Family Bed, 2013, wooden crutches. (Detail below)

Family Bed Detailx633 0

What I Wish I Had Engraved in My School Desk, 2014, school desk, graphite, engraving ink

Found Objectx633 0

Reccession, 2007, leather wallet

Womankins, One Player or Two, with artist

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