McClain Gallery presents Julia Kunin: "Rainbow Dream Machine" opening day

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McClain Gallery presents Julia Kunin: "Rainbow Dream Machine"
Julia Kunin, Rainbow Dream Machine, 2019 ceramic 39 x 45 x 4 inches Photo courtesy of Julia Kunin

McClain Gallery presents "Rainbow Dream Machine," Julia Kunin’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition presents ceramic pieces from the artist’s Caryatid series, a procession of figurative, wall-mounted, and multipart high reliefs. In Kunin’s distinctive style, the works drift between figuration and abstraction while borrowing the language of ar- chitecture and employing luster glazes.

The utopian structures Kunin refers to are manifold: Caryatids in Greek architecture dating back to the 6th century B.C.; the architecture and arts and crafts of 20th century Socialist Hungary; the Bauhaus movement, specifically Oskar Schlemmer’s “The Triadic Ballet,” and its robotic, futuristic costumes; and illustrator Aubrey Beardsley’s Art Nouveau-era drawings that incorporate both pattern and organic forms.

With reverence for such historical wellsprings, Kunin’s sculptures read as architectural friezes in their own right, telling the story of battle-ready warriors: totemic and unwaning. Gender and sexuality have always been strong integrants of Kunin’s work. Her abstract approach returned to an overt method of figurative representation to address a mounting erasure of queer, specifically lesbian, portrayal in society at large.

While possessing female attributes and symbols of femininity like breasts, keyhole shapes, and eyes, the sculptures are essentially genderless. These sentinel-like figures could hail from a futuristic utopia, serving as its protectors and guardians. The viewer can glean a narrative subtext via visual cues, but it is open to interpretation and relies purely upon the viewer’s reference-making to develop a full story.

The exhibition will remain on display through January 30, 2021.

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McClain Gallery
2242 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77098

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Admission is free.