Since our reopening, I’ve spent more time in the galleries and have enjoyed watching our visitors enthusiastically interact with the works in A Telling Instinct: John James Audubon & Contemporary Art. I think there is something remarkable about viewing the unexpected contemporary works juxtaposed with Audubon’s prints. It’s the fantastical nature of the exhibition that has visitors’ eyes lighting up continuously. Visitors enter the Explore Asheville Exhibition Hall and are greeted with Adonna Khare’s Two Lions to their right, and are almost immediately engrossed in spotting all the animals in the drawing. Every time I witness this occurrence, all I can think is “wait until you see Pool Party” like I’m in on some sort of surprise. As they meander through the gallery space and over to the adjacent wall where Pool Party is displayed, I watch them stop abruptly in front of the expansive drawing, almost entranced. Pool Party is breathtaking for many reasons, one being that you feel like a spectator with the unexpected privilege of arriving in the middle of someone else’s brilliant dream. The experience is delightfully overwhelming.
In the scene, Khare creates a scenario of unlikely animal friends and enemies that reimagines the way the animals interact with each other. The title of the work Pool Party is playful to me, because my mind wanders to a real-life version of this animal gathering, almost like my mind has caught the scene on film with audio. If you spend enough time gazing, you’re sure to notice a new element each time. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the various beach balls that the tigers are perched upon, as well as pool noodles intertwined with the zebras and tigers. A heron is wearing arm floaties as its beak contains the ribbons or stripes coming off the body of the zebra. You’ll also notice that the stripes of the tigers and zebras appear to be mimicked in the waves of the water, which to me look like ripples of the ocean.
As I learned during our first Third Thursday: Coloring & Cocktails which featured Khare, she is also a tattoo artist. This is my favorite fact to astonish visitors with, but it’s not hard to conceptualize when you study the intricacy of the details she communicates on paper. Following the virtual event, a few of us at the Museum joked that it was worth the cross-country road trip to her studio in Burbank for the unique opportunity to become her canvas. Click here to learn more about her work.
-Contributed by Devon Fero, communications & external affairs assistant