In these days of big box store
consumerism the illusory allure of abundance is a key form
of merchandising. That’s what makes the carefully
arranged aisles of Home Depot and Wal-Mart an art supply
mother lode for Carolyn Mason, an artist who mines them
for visual appeal and social commentary. Her sculptures
are playful and insidious hybrids that stem from her bemusement
of the fact that store shelves are filled with dizzying
arrays of seemingly utilitarian items tarted up for consumer
seduction. Why, she muses, is one brand of paint roller
a minty fresh green while another is candy fluff pink?
No product, regardless how mundane its purpose, is free
of the manufacturer’s attempt to lure buyers with
glamorizing aesthetic flourishes. Building the bigger,
flashier mousetrap is a ubiquitous occurrence.
Mason makes sculptures that push this very
real capitalist scenario a few steps further towards
absurdity. She imagines and creates glittering, over-scaled
fantasy versions of common tools for painting and cleaning
(though she slips in off-the-shelf Readymades that affirm
the absurdity). In her work, there’s a healthy
tension between the idea of improvement and excess. Do
we really need 30 models of paint rollers with various
colors and fibers? Often these materials emit mixed messages – industrial
objects are designed to be comely enough to be vanity
table fixtures, and vice versa. Mason’s objects,
displayed with the tropes of contemporary retail etiquette,
are akin to mutant merchandise. It is as if the paint
rollers developed the equivalent of assembly line cancers.
Her aberrant objects are wonderful, horrible things that
will have you scratching your head in disbelief, while
simultaneously recognizing that you want one.