Donna Hapac belongs to a group of daring sculptors who choose to reinvent what counts as material for fine art. Artists like Eva Hesse, Petah Coyne and Dan Flavin each respectively brought non-traditional mediums of latex, hair and florescent tubing into the fine art vocabulary. Now, with the work of Hapac, we have the appropriation of the acrylic nail as fine art medium.
Hapac’s show at the Koscielak Gallery is a sampling of the “nail” works along with a handful of her bent reed constructs as well. In these two sets of structures, form is dictated by their medium. The candy-colored “Helix” is comprised of linked acrylic nails arranged in a vertical spiral that unfurls as it curves upward. The pieces that use the unadulterated nail form, sans color, are among her most convincing work. It’s amazing how the unenhanced acrylic nail lends a slick, translucent and ghost-like feel to her “Creature” series. When combined, the nail’s white scoop shapes together with the ragged, unkempt frizz of the string’s raw edges lend her creature works organic credibility. The viewer can almost feel these creatures gently swaying back and forth in the undulations of an underwater current.
Ultimately, what does Hapac’s use of acrylic nails as a medium amount to? Any social commentary inherent in this specifically cultural object is transformed into a formal delight, giving new life to the artificial. (MK Meador)
Through December 30 at Gosia Koscielak Gallery, 1646 N. Bosworth.