process . location . object

Intervention at MFA St. Pete

By. David Z. Morris

 This must-see show is a homecoming of sorts for Vanessa Diaz, who graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Florida just a few years ago. She’s since distinguished herself as one of the most promising young artists in Florida, including participating in the inaugural Florida Prize in Contemporary Art exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art.

Diaz’s art centers on repurposing found objects, usually large architectural and furniture elements. At her Orlando show, she shaped humble miniblinds into a soaring white spiral, inverted seats, and stacked piano legs in disconcerting piles.

Though her work is at scale, a lot of what makes it great is the work she puts into resurfacing her objects, which tend towards the weathered and organic. She describes this as an evocation of the lives of the previous owners, “the marks made by repetitive behaviors and habits.” The collision of the familiar and strange – these well-worn objects, arranged in alien ways – is perhaps the core tension that makes Diaz’s work so fascinating.

The most tantalizing element of this show, though, is that Diaz will be doing site specific transformations on two of the historical rooms at the Museum of Fine Arts – you know the ones, full of gold leaf and deep red wallpaper. Seeing what she’s able to do with those traditional – not to say stodgy – spaces is truly tantalizing.