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Review: Wheels, Figures, Choices and The Soul Silently Fidgets 

D. Eric Bookhardt on new exhibits by Lisa Osborn and Christopher Deris

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A native of Avery Island, Lisa Osborn recently returned to Louisiana after a long sojourn in Boston and presents this weird sculpture show. Strange in an interesting way, Osborn's mostly human-size clay figures radiate pathos, but their meaning is up to us. Many suggest tragic figures from the dark fantasy realms of Mary Shelley or Edgar Allan Poe, and indeed Shelley's Frankenstein has nothing on Osborn's Old Man. A hulking, dejected figure like a long-retired linebacker, the old man's ample forearms hang haplessly from metal rods reminiscent of meat hooks as his hairless head appears lost in unknown ruminations. That contemplative aura links him to the all-too-human heroes and deities of the great myths, some of which appear here. Prometheus, who was bound by Zeus for gifting humanity with fire, is chained by his wrists and ankles to a constraining iron wheel that encircles him as a humanoid owl stands guard. Poor Thoth (pictured), the ibis-headed god of ancient Egypt, suffers a similar fate. No longer the master of the Nile, today he is confined to the lower levels of oblivion. Osborn's female figures seem more hopeful, but we are still confronted with echoes of an earlier age — those pagan times when men and gods were not so very different, eons before new technologies stole their thunder and left mere mortals to wander adrift in today's electronic wilderness.

  Human aspiration, technology and the imagination appear in uneasy relationships in Christopher Deris' kinetic sculpture expo at Antenna Gallery. Here mixed-media body parts are animated by improbable concoctions of gears, rods and pulleys that, according to Deris, "act as surrogates or metaphors for humanity." In these works, man and machine are intimately, if messily, united, but unlike today's digital technologies, we can at least see the forces that move them, even as it remains unclear who is in control. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

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