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Flying School: Diane Landry’s work from Cameron Art Museum’s exhibit in 2000. Landry will return to CAM in 2013 for a solo exhibit. Courtesy photo

Flying School: Diane Landry’s work from Cameron Art Museum’s exhibit in 2000. Landry will return to CAM in 2013 for a solo exhibit. Courtesy photo

As 2012 draws to a close, society becomes consumed with re-examining the year’s highlights and looking towards the new year for a fresh start. (And if you’re reading this now, congratulations! We all survived December 21st’s end of the Mayan calendar.) Artist Diane Landry’s work calls for a new perspective on a variety of relationships and interactions, making her a perfect artist to look forward to seeing more work from in 2013. While many talented artists today create work that holds a mirror to the world, it subsequently reflects what we already know about ourselves, our relationships, objects and one another.

Hailing from Canada, Landry’s first life goal was “to change the world by impacting peoples lives with my [her] art work.”  Growing up in a family whose ambitions for their children centered around stable, lucrative jobs—i.e. doctors—the discussion of pursuing life as an artist became somewhat shelved. Landry studied natural science in undergrad, and worked for the agriculture department, the post office and a variety of other jobs, while putting her own creative stamp on her art work. These jobs provided her with the ability to develop and focus on her passion. Though working at the post office was mechanical and mindless, it actually allowed for the consistent fueling of her creativity.

Working as a multidisciplinary artist, Landry creates what she calls, “oeuvres mouvelles.” Consisting of installations, sculptures and performances in which an assortment of everyday objects from our everyday world, she uses motion, sound, shadow play and light to allow a reinterpretation.

“My projects seek to subvert our outlook on life by portraying both time and our inventiveness in forgetting the passing of time,” Landry states.

Utilizing everyday items like umbrellas, salad spinners and plastic utensils, Landry seeks to reverse the imagery. In choosing objects that are universally recognizable with a common meaning, she hopes to reveal its “secret face”—or what she defines as a new avenue through which to view objects. “I modify the original material as little as possible and just transform the standard meaning,” Landry explains. She has modified a record turntable, giving it new life as a merry-go-round. She has turned umbrellas into flowers, house-keys int bells, a plastic laundry basket into a cathedral rosette, a salad spinner into a miniature theater. “When we see the result, nothing is really hidden,” she says. “Instead [we’re thrown] into confusion by the new directions these [objects] take. The ready-made artifacts that I integrate into my installations and performances are temporarily altered.”

Since our memory of objects is associated with a specific purpose, action or experience, they do not stray from these particular commitments. In a world where scientific analysis and easy classification fits neatly into sequestered, specific categories, Landry manages to challenge our perception. It forces our views in a new way.

In essence, she provides her subjects with a new life. Many of the materials she uses gain life from human interaction, but she lends them the ability to be self-controlled. Animating ordinary objects encroaches and challenges humanities superiority complex as the most highly intelligent.

“Born out of current events or criticisms, the reading of our world is added to my personal experiences,” she says. “I seek to reconstruct this youthful ability to see fantastic animals in clouds [or] the unforgettable experience of our first bicycle ride.”

Landry says many of our sensory characteristics connect us to visions and objects through emotional ties. Or perhaps we are mandated by them from another’s memory. By twisting perception and expectation of objects, she pushes us to reconsider our interactions.

Landry was featured in an exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum in 2005. Her memorable work from 2000, “Flying School,” comprises of a group of upright, multicolored umbrellas. The umbrellas gently open and close in time with the wheezing or dozens of harmonicas attached to their bases. By subtly providing life and sound to an object, Landry creates objects with machine-like precision that begin to unravel the line. She separates human/object/machine and sheds light on the relationship between them.

“The emotion generated by contact with the object is as connected to it as is its name,” she says. “When we remember an object, we remember not only its sensory characteristics but also our reactions to it at the time. I seek to provoke a new surprising relationship to known objects and thus break the usual link between our reading of an object and our memory of it.”

She will return to Cameron Art Museum in the summer of 2013. Her solo show will feature both new works, such as “Exhaustion” from 2012, which features a chandelier made of plastic utensils. Some of her better-known pieces, like the aforementioned “Flying Machine” and “Privileges” (an automated flip book made of a complete dictionary) will be on display too. With a very basic layout of the exhibition, Landry is comfortable with change and reconfiguring how her work will interact with the space. Folks can view her work early at http://dianelandry.com.

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