Visual Arts

Red Meat

The theme of the group show at Herberger Theater Center Gallery is "Sensual Pleasures," so there's lots of red in the pottery, paintings and sculptures on exhibit. Because as we all know, red equals sexy. There are also the requisite nude female forms cropped tightly so the curve of a breast or hip becomes a suggestive shape, and there are some digital images of Georgia O'Keeffe-esque flowers magnified until their plant privates look like human privates. Just when you're about to slip into a coma from the polite predictability of it all, an installation by Phoenix artist Jeanne Collins snaps your brain back into gear.

In Collins' piece, a colorful, life-size feast of ceramic food sits atop a table draped with an elegant cloth. You'll be startled when you realize the protein in these entrees comes from human organs. Yow, it's a feast fit for Hannibal Lecter! There's Stomach à l'orange with Sliced Beets and Green Beans. Lungs with Shell Pasta. Spleen with Yellow Squash.

It's gleefully grotesque, but the piece is more than a gross-out stunt. Collins has ignored the sexual connotation of "sensual" and focused on the word's more neutral meaning of body over mind. Her Biopsy Banquet shows our bodies don't look any different from the other animals -- especially when chopped into pieces and wrapped in a tortilla. (See the Gall Bladder Spicy Wraps.) Despite our allegedly superior intellect, we're just meat.