Friday, October 5, 2012

“Endless Amusement” in the Print Department

After a summer as the VCP artist-in-residence intern, Jesse Lentz has completed ten sculptures inspired by the Print Collections.  Originally struck by an A. Schoenhut & Company trade catalog while on a visit with a University of the Arts class, Ms. Lentz has re-envisioned graphics from that catalog and related Library Company graphic printed works to create a series of whimsical, kinetic, and nostalgic sculptures.  The ten works in her Endless Amusement exhibition, on view now in the small exhibition gallery and the Print Department, represent ten decades of toy design, marketing, and consumerism.

Ms. Lentz begins her menagerie in the 1850s with an interpretation of a rocking horse.  This is her largest-scale piece, influenced by paper doll soldiers in our collections.  Other sculptures include a tin elephant, dancing fox, and mechancial tiger tamer and draw on books related to nursery rhymes, travel, and children's toy making.  An artist's statement accompanies each piece and sheds light on Ms. Lentz's motivations, process, and personal connections to her work.  Common threads in her work, made evident in the statements, are her ingenuity in repurposing materials and her insights about the provenance of her historical models.  Endless Amusement will be on display through the fall with an online exhibition available for view on the VCP at LCP website in the coming weeks.

Illustrations of Schoenhut's Marvelous Toys.  The Humpty Dumpty Circus.  Philadelphia: The A. Schoenhut Co., 1918.  Purchased with funds from the Walter J. Miller Trust.
Rocking Horse, wood, paint, yarn, fabric, and found rocking chair.  Inspired by Civil War-era paper dolls in the collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Tin Elephant, tin sheet, wood, enamel, and matte medium.  Inspired by Sir James Emerson Tennent, The Wild Elephant and the Method of Capturing and Taming it in Ceylon.  London: Longmans, Green, 1867, and online research.
Dancing Fox Lady, copper sheet, aluminum sheet, string, and wood.  Inspired by Ebenezer Landell, The Girl's Own Toy-Maker.  Boston: Cyrus G. Cook, 1861.

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