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January 17, 2000

Exhibit of work by California artist explores the duplicitous decoy

By Barbara McKenna

The current exhibit at the Sesnon Art Gallery features the work of California artist Vida Ratzlaff Hackman. The show, "Decoys," runs through February 25, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18.

Art by Vida Ratzlaff Hackman
He/She Monoprint, 1992
Art by Vida Ratzlaff Hackman
Hackman, who died last April, was a familiar presence at UCSC in the mid-1980s, having taught twice as a visiting lecturer. The current exhibit features work which explores and expounds on the notion of the decoy.

"A decoy's function is to lure the bird it represents," Hackman wrote. "However to the viewer unaware of their duplicitous roles, the decoy's imitation of a bird can appear quite innocent. It is the ambiguity of function that is attractive to me and that offers greater opportunities for me as artist to trick and transform--to metaphorically preserve and protect."

"If [Hackman] has one overarching theme," says artist and art critic Isabel Anderson, "it is the danger and pleasure of allure and entrapment and, along with that, the important modern issue of the relationship between the sphere of public and private life."

Hackman used elegant objects--drawings, videotapes, monoprints, constructions and environments--to create her rich and vibrant body of work. Her work extends the notion of art as an ongoing continuum rather than as a collection of singular artworks.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (831) 459-3606.

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