Matthew Mahoney's been putting in long hours as the San Diego Art Institute's artist-in-residence. The exotic fruits of his labor can be seen in two otherworldly sculptural installations on view in "What Remains: Debris and Detritus in Fine Art," a group exhibition showing through Sunday, July 12.
Mahoney masterfully creates strange, somewhat mischievous scenes with his surrealistic sculptures. Made from cardboard, bits of Fun Noodle, plastic wrap, crepe paper and other unexpected, mostly upcycled materials, Mahoney uses things that remind him of the Southern California landscape. Those items aren't as pliable or well-behaved as more traditional sculptural mediums, but look close and you'll see the impressive detail he achieves—specifically, the twisting thread in his mystical creatures' hands and feet.
The 26-year-old artist recently graduated with his master of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Those familiar with his work from his undergraduate time at Point Loma Nazarene University—a collection of his crude, duct-tape-and-cardboard fish sculptures, for example, hung from the ceiling of the now-closed Sea Rocket Bistro for years—will notice a substantial evolution of his style.
"Going to RISD, I sort of tapped into this practice of fly-tying I'd grown up doing and started working smaller," the artist says, squatting down to point out three gorgeous ghost orchids he made with tissue paper, thread and epoxy resin. "Then the smaller works influenced the larger works."
The larger sculptures aren't quite as refined as the smaller work, but the way Mahoney exposes the hodgepodge of raw materials he's using is part of the point.
"I didn't want to hide anything here," Mahoney says. "I want the processes to be transparent and really evident."
Mahoney and other artists featured in "What Remains" will talk about their work in the show from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 10, at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. Other exhibition highlights include the melted VHS tapes reformed into sculptures by Jason Sherry, the hanging used-clothing sculpture by Dia Bassett and the striking 30-by-14-foot installation made of repurposed books by Joshua Krause.
"When making this work, I imagined myself a future caveman who discovered a highly abundant and possibly valuable resource in old books," Krause writes in an email. "As the information inside held no meaning, the colors and texture of the covers and paper tapped into the primal desire to express, create and communicate."