Rebecca Campbell, American, born 1971
avocado tree reinforced with steel and fiberglass, covered in hand-sewn velvet, hand-blown glass birds on brass feet filled with Windex; steel filled with Solar Salt harvested from the Great Salt Lake.
Gift of Rebecca Campbell and L.A. Louver, Venice, California
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
North Wing, Greenbaum Lobby
Named after a pop song by the British neo-romantic band Culture Club, this sculpture is complex and multifaceted. Campbell explains that its genesis was the sight of a group of burned trees standing in bright snow - a scene of great beauty but tinged with tremendous sadness as the trees were dead. Their slender black trunks reminded Campbell of John Singer Sargent’s scandalous 1884 portrait of a society lady – Portrait of Madame X . Sargent painted his subject with a deathly pallor and the strap of her evening gown slipped off her shoulder – a detail that hinted at loose morals. Here the elegant serpentine curve of the female body is translated into an exquisite, fetshized object – a lifeless tree wrapped in velvet and adorned with Windex-filled glass birds. It signifies a sense nature that is artificially constrained as well as an ideal of order that requires nefarious chemicals to keep nature at bay.