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© 2019 by Hilary Pfeifer. 

Beauty of Life

Portland Building Installation Space
(sponsored by the Regional Arts and Culture Council)
October 12 - November 12, 2010

The Beauty of Life is an installation inspired by the wallpaper and fabric patterns of Arts and Crafts designer William Morris, especially his most famous work titled “The Strawberry Thief.” Around one thousand leaf, flower, fruit and bird forms made from reclaimed wood from deconstructed homes, or ornate picture frames, rulers, decorative fruit, toys, and cooking utensils create an interlocking three dimensional wallpaper pattern that evolves from a more formal center to wild abandon at its edges. These elements break from their patterned routines: plants crane towards the light coming from above, a bird might now turn its head to peer at the viewer, a provocative object held in its beak.

Some of the vines coming from the main wall have been covered by a monochromatic carpet that lays on the gallery floor, similar to the black ground cloth we use to smother unruly growth on an urban plot of land. These vines have traveled beneath the surface, however, sprouting up in far corners again. Like the edges of the wall installation, these plants are slightly changed when they re-emerge. This not only is a nod to the long running themes in my own artwork, but also a nod to Morris, whose outspoken political views made him a controversial and influential figure in his time.

One of Morris’ most famous quotes is: “Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” As an homage to this concept, the components of this installation are actually wall-mounted brooches and tie-tacks. Eight pieces that extend from the wall to the floor are neckpieces.