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Arty Girl: Kay Emig at Central AZ College Visual Arts Gallery

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Ok, bear with me on this one, kids. I'm going to tell you about an art show in Coolidge, AZ.

I know, I know! It's a little out there. But, you trust me, right? I wouldn't do this to you unless I thought it was worth it.

I got a flier in the mail for Kay Emig's show a few weeks ago, and I fell in love with the printed image on the card. I put it on the back burner, thinking it was just too far out of town. But every time I've come across it since, it's called to me...like those goddamn Girl Scout cookies that are everywhere right now. So, today, I'm going for it.

Turns out, I have no self control...whether it's art or cookies, I'm f*cked.

The four mask-like pieces above are painstakingly made by sewing or weaving teeny-tiny beads together. Now, we've seen bead ladies here before at the New Times. Nonetheless, I'm alway impressed by the medium and I think Emig's work is truly incredible.


Rather than chew up, swallow and regurgitate what Emig has to say about her own work, I'm just going to straight-up quote the woman:

To create these works of beaded wall art, motel signage along the Apache Trail was selected, the constituent elements sorted by color, and then reassembled to make each "face". These new forms are intensified versions of stylistic motifs that were popular decorative sources for motels designed with 'exotic' Polynesian or Native American themes. ("Pueblo-tiki" seemed to be the best way to describe this mixture of aesthetics.) The series will require a fifth mask to complete. Their sizes range from @23" to 27" H x @13.5" W x 1.5" D. These works are rendered in the material language of beads: a material language found in the tourist kitsch sold in motel office/giftshop/cafes.

She continues to really get into it on this page of her website, which I highly recommend reading. Not only is her concept behind the work intelligent and well-researched, but Emig sounds like a funny character herself.

She claims she hates to sew even though each mask takes about six months to complete. And she repeatedly mentions her habit of playing with erasers and naming them as an indication that she's not the kind of person technically savvy enough for designing a website.

What a crack-up.

Anyway, I love what she's done here. Even if we all can't make the trek to see this exhibition, we should at least keep her on the radar...and I hope that next time she shows, she'll bag a closer venue.

"Kay Emig: Selected Works" runs through April 24th at the Visual Arts Gallery in the Student Services Building at Central Arizona College, 8470 N. Overfield Rd in Coolidge (I-10 to Exit 190, East to Overfield Rd., North to Campus). Open weekdays only. Call 520-560-2452.

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