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Walter Robinson: Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a survey of experiments with biomorphic forms that I’ve worked on over the past seven years. The earliest rough-hewn pieces were begun during a residency at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California, where I was able to work outdoors at a large scale with fallen trees. The mutating plant forms sprouted organically out of the natural surroundings. They evolved over time into glossy wood-and-epoxy animal species.

The animal forms—tar pets, sparkle pups, and brillo giraffes—grew out of observing African animal fetishes and collecting children’s toys. I was struck by the powerful physical immediacy of such simple forms (essentially a torso and four legs), and the way our human brains and bodies react to them in biologically prescribed ways—with fright or curiosity or empathy, etc. It’s as if, as animals ourselves, we’re compelled to interpret their intent toward each other and us.

The animals are skinned with layers of epoxy, pigments and metalflake that I borrowed from the “pop” vocabulary of another chapter of my work. Their seductive candy-colored bodies allude to the ways that science has manipulated life forms for a consumer culture hungry for pets, meat, beauty, virility, drugs and immortality.

In working with these ideas, I came to understand that the childlike wonder and joy we find in nature is tempered with the dread and awe of its unpredictability and power.

Walter Robinson, artist