Liz Hickok

San Francisco based artist, Liz Hickok, has a definite passion for the city by the bay.  She translates the convulsing landscape of minds, drugs and earthquakes into a luminous Jell-O reproduction.  Her psychedelic  reinterpretation parallels your average drug trip: distorted proportions, strangely edible bands of dayglo, artificial scents, everything sweaty and viscous; lasting a few hours until the only remnants are a few photographs and the curious question of why everything is so sticky.

Like Bill Cosby reimagined Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, she decks out her gelatin landscapes to the nines.  Twinkling lights on the bay bridge, dry ice to create early morning fog, hand painted back drops and the entire swaying city is set upon light boards to illuminate the buildings with an eerily delicious glow.  The up close detail of the lopsided city resting at obscene angles evokes the turn of the century German expressionist films but recolored by Ken Kesey.

I find Hickok’s artist statement quite appealing and exact,

“I create glowing, jellied scale models of urban sites, transforming ordinary physical surroundings into something unexpected and ephemeral. Lit from below, the molded shapes of the city blur into a jewel-like mosaic of luminous color and volume. The gelatinous material also evokes uncanny parallels with the geological uncertainties of San Francisco’s landscape. While the translucent beauty of the compositions first seduces the viewer, their fragility quickly becomes a metaphor for the transitory nature of human artifacts.”

Her pieces only last a few hours and are in a constant state of melt, I remember my 3rd grade science teacher exploding our fruit roll-up wrapped brains by telling us that Jell-O is neither a solid or a liquid, it straddles the border of suspension.  Hickok explores that temporary nature, photographing a street over the course of several minutes can display an entirely different aesthetic; one picture hopeful, upright and Christmas tree bright, the next subdued, elongated and oddly depressive like a Menorah.  Hand crafting each mold in exchange for a few minutes of photographs is a huge undertaking for a short reward, but Hickok executes it with gusto. Exploring this dystopian jolly rancher world through her lens is exciting, allowing us a new exposure to a world we had already chalked off as seen.  Check out her video tribute to Obama’s first 100 days in the White House, honestly, dessert has never made me feel so patriotic.

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