Ann Agee at PPOW

Installation of sculptures by Ann Agee; courtesy PPOW

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It’s the rare artist who is able to transform kitsch into something more than what it is, and Ann Agee is one of them. Her porcelain figurines, currently the subject of an exhibition at PPOW Gallery, constitute a high-strung tribute to maternity. Taking inspiration from children’s storybooks, folk art and the half-price sale at the thrift shop down the street, Ms. Agee has created a pan-ethnic and pan-sexual world of upwardly mobile urbanites, one in which multiculturalism is less an ideology than a fact and a blessing. Her gleaming cast of expectant parents is rubbery, giddy, goofy and, as such, a hair’s breadth from succumbing to a fatal case of the cutes. Ms. Agee holds the work together, though, partly through spirit (jubilant), partly through color (lustrous) and mostly through pattern (wild). Her explicit portrayals of childbirth and, especially, dissections of male and female genitalia seem out of character for Ms. Agee, but her diorama of a Lamaze class, the centerpiece here and a delight, is touching, tender and tacky in just the right measures.

© 2001 Mario Naves

Originally published in the November 11, 2001 edition of The New York Observer.

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