Frankie Toan: Plush it Real Good

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After moving to the Temple in Curtis Park last year, PlatteForum is now finding its groove with a new director, Kim Estes McCarty, and a fresh slate of artist residencies for 2016, beginning with a collaboration between sculpture artist Frankie Toan, who is also a current RedLine resident, and students from McLain Community High School. Toan and the kids have been putting together a hands-on piece called Plush It Real Good, which debuts starting at 5:30 March 3, during a reception with a twist that some folks might find hard to handle. “Viewers of the exhibit will be invited to interact with the objects and each other,” Toan says. “One might stick their hand into the sculpture only to find someone else’s hand already inside.

“We are mining our own autobiographical narratives to bring life experiences into the work,” Toan continues. “Though we approached that from a playful perspective, there's something inherently uncomfortable about it. The sculpture itself is colorful and plush and squishy, but some people have no desire to interact with it at all.” But not so Toan's students: “They've been amazing. They were so eager and open and willing to try anything. They have been with it from the beginning,” notes the artist, whose own queer and transgender life perspectives show up in the piece.

Traditionally a metalsmith, Toan has found that working with fiber has given him ideas for diversifying his own art. “A lot of these sculptures are more raw and off the cuff and maybe a little more honest than my other work,” he explains. “I really enjoyed working this way, and I do think it will inform decisions made in my work going forward.” Plush It Real Good runs through March 18 at PlatteForum, 2400 Curtis Street. For more information, visit platteforum.org.

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