Multimedia artist Candy Depew sums up her work this way: "My
create desire and wanting." She could be describing any number of the things local art aficionados have come to know her for, such as sensationally gaudy, highly graphic ceramics, sculptures, and textile design.
But for "Housing Project," her new exhibition at the Design Center at Philadelphia University, Depew applies herself to consumption - clothing, porcelain jewelry, furnishings, window treatments - and draws on her travels as an artist-in-residence and professional house sitter in the United States and Europe.
"Depending on the studio I'm working with, there may be rules restricting me to just one element, their brand of art," Depew says. "But when there are no rules, as with this project, I can do everything." And everything - an aesthetic Depew calls "graphic flow" - is behind "Housing Project" from start to finish.
An entryway of black-vinyl flourishes and green leaves highlights a sculptured woman in a Victorian ensemble standing next to a BMX bike and an 8-foot-long chopper. A crystal-cave bedroom features vinyl murals overflowing with crystals and diamonds; lacy black porcelain sculptures flank the bed.
An opium den-style reading room has paisley-fabric walls that recall nomads' tents and cafes in Amsterdam. The parlor contains a prosperity symbol of golden fish and mannequins in gowns, including a Depew collaboration with dressmaker Erin Mahoney.
"Usually, I get 'Whoa!' as a first response," Depew says of the dazzling morass. Then people tell her they want it in their homes. But she also is seeking to trigger emotion and memory, so everybody takes something away. "People see themselves in the work. They want to be in it."
- A.D. Amorosi