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Puppets, Ghosts, and Zombies: The Sculpture of Pat Keck

September 13, 2003 - January 18, 2004


This one-person retrospective exhibition features over fifty works by one of America's most fascinating yet under-recognized sculptors. Since the late 1970s, Pat Keck (from Andover, Massachusetts) has created painted wood figurative sculptures, many of them mechanical and interactive. Puppets, Ghosts, and Zombies: The Sculpture of Pat Keck also includes related prints and preparatory drawings for the sculptures, and an extensive educational display that reveals Keck's artistic process.

Pat Keck's characteristic style is based on an idiosyncratic abstraction of the human face and figure: frontal and symmetrical, with highly finished and brightly-colored surfaces, and an anatomical articulation more mechanical than organic. The figures are gorgeously crafted, and each detail-from the wood joinery to the clothing to the moving parts-is designed and fabricated by the artist herself.

This stylistic formula is used to create beings that exist on the edge of humanity and consciousness: mechanical and utilitarian figures like scarecrows, dummies, toys, puppets, robots, and automatons; semi-sentient figures like somnambulists, ghosts, and monsters; and a host of androgynous "men" engaged in quasi-ritualistic and mysterious activities. Keck's imaginative world is influenced by many sources that point roughly in the same direction. She is interested in folk and vernacular arts, especially those associated with carnivals, fairs, and the circus, as well as visual elements of other performing arts, most notably vaudeville and popular music of the 1970s and 1980s (Glam Rock, Punk, and New Wave Music).

Keck's art, on a conceptual level, grapples with important philosophical and psychological issues that continue to perplex us: control and manipulation vs. free will and predestination, the relationship of the conscious to the subconscious mind, and the mysteries of life, self-awareness, sleep, and ultimately, death. These fears are leavened with humor, while intensified with experiential strategies derived from theater. Keck's work-especially the mechanical sculptures-involves anticipation, confrontation, surprise, spectacle, and the direct participation of viewers to make the figures "come alive."

Puppets, Ghosts, and Zombies: The Sculpture of Pat Keck is organized by DeCordova Curator Nick Capasso, and is accompanied by a full-color exhibition catalogue.

Additionally, the following events and educational programming are being organized in conjunction with this exhibition:

Totems & Talismans Family Day
Sunday, September 14, 2003
1 - 4 pm
Museum Galleries
Artist Talks
Gallery Talks: Meet the Artists or Curator
Third Floor Lobby, Saturdays at 3 pm

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