Barry McNamara  |  Published January 09, 2019

‘You Are a Monument’

Elizabeth Folk exhibit of 16 flags, a rideable equestrian statue and an accompanying performative video to open Jan. 18 with gallery reception, talk.


MONMOUTH, Ill. – For California artist Elizabeth Folk, whose work will go on display this month at Monmouth College, the creative process comes down to answering a series of questions.

“Does it look like art?” she asks. If the answer is “Yes,” her reply is to start over.

Among other questions: Is her creation interactive? Does it start a conversation? Is it humorous? Is it revolutionary?

Finally, she asks, “Do I hear the sound of it clicking into place?”

A series of works that clicked for Folk will be displayed Jan. 18-Feb. 13 in the College’s Len G. Everett Gallery in Hewes Library. Titled You Are a Monument, the works can be described as “interdisciplinary sculpture and time-based media.”

On the exhibit’s opening day, Folk will be on campus for a gallery reception from 3-4:30 p.m. She will give a gallery talk at 3:30 p.m. The exhibit, reception and talk are all free and open to the public.

Does it look like art? If the answer is “Yes,” start over.

“The exhibit explores contemporary notions of monumentality and sovereignty in a politically complex time,” said Folk. “The works include an installation of 16 flags, a rideable plush ‘equestrian statue’ and an accompanying performative video.”

She said the toy-like equestrian statue “evokes mental images of an out-of-control childish icon.” While the accompanying video seems playful at first, as it slows, the horse and rider “fling about violently, and the audio reveals an inner and unexpected menace.”

“In an iconoclastic time where historic monuments celebrating ugly parts of American history are highly contested, the statue and video seek to defamiliarize the equestrian statue itself as an iconic symbol,” said Folk. “By monumentalizing the everyday interactions of the people of the greater Monmouth area, the exhibition raises the question of how and why we choose to celebrate our history.”

An assistant professor of studio art, Folk teaches at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“In a society where we spend much of our time in capsules traveling from capsule to capsule, I have realized that most of my art belongs somewhere between the capsules – a special delivery for you during your long day, should you choose to accept,” said Folk.

Her insertions into the everyday have taken the form of a mobile spa vending machine, a pirate waitressing performance, and unsolicited janitorial services with a twist, among other “special deliveries.”

If You Go …

The Everett Gallery is open during library hours: 7:30 a.m.-midnight, Monday-Thursday; 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; and noon-midnight, Sunday.

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