Skewed Views

Written by Mackenzie McCreary Category: Arts Issue: May 2014
Group Free

Matt Johnson, “American Spirit,” 2010

SEE IT: A garbage bag bulging with trash is actually a 250-pound piece of solid marble. A pack of American Spirit cigarettes is really a sculpture composed of foam, plastic, paper, paint and magnets. Such is the mischievous, don’t-believe-your-eyes nature of Lifelike, on view through May 18 in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum. Each piece in the exhibition represents an ordinary object recreated through materials like bronze and plastic.

“It doesn’t aim to capture authenticity... but aims to transcend it, giving it ‘magical realism,’” Huffington Post arts critic Priscilla Frank wrote of Lifelike. “Encountering these pieces gives a similar feeling to seeing a blender for the first time and swearing it must be extraordinary.” With works from such artists as Ai Weiwei and Chuck Close, the exhibition of nearly 70 pieces promises to trick your impressions of everything from milk cartons to sunflower seeds. For more information, visit