WENDY MARUYAMA: THE WILDLIFE PROJECT
October 7, 2017–February 18, 2018
Curated By Elizabeth Kozlowski
Wendy Maruyama raises awareness about endangered African wildlife with her monumental installation in wood, glass, and metal. A furniture maker, artist, and educator, Maruyama has a reputation for creating innovative sculptural work that merges activism and studio craft to arouse social change. Inspired by her travels in Kenya where she saw elephants and other large animals in the wild, Maruyama focuses attention on the devastating effects of poaching, which has decimated the African elephant population. Ranging from 8- to 12-feet tall, Maruyama’s masks mimic the scale and form of real elephants. Stitched together from wood panels, each mask is distinct, suggesting the individuality of every elephant. Glass tusks encased in a sarcophagus emphasize the impermanence and frugality of the elephants’ lives. A traditional Buddhist shrine creates a space for introspection and a cenotaph stands as a monument to the large animals of Africa, including the rhinos that, along with the elephants, are also killed for their ivory. Maruyama’s objects stir a sense of wonder and respect for these magnificent animals and ask us to consider how we might value and protect them. As a call to action, The WildLIFE Project prompts us to confront questions about what we can do to promote societal change and how we will preserve wildlife for future generations.
The WildLIFE Project is organized by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and made possible by generous support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.