Cantaloupe: Gracelee Lawrence

Walking into The Mom Gallery for Gracelee Lawrence’s exhibition Cantaloupe, you could feel Lawrence’s tight embrace of the environment—a living room in Hyde Park. Cantaloupe is a clever meshing and moshing of contradictory social and domestic constructs that sit naturally in the space.

In the first room, front and center, sits Fount of Moderate Apprehension, one of two unconventional fountains in the show. The fountains mimic hollowed-out half versions of the show’s titular melons. Full of vapor and spitting water—almost like tiny cauldrons—they are thoughtfully placed on what looks like a cross between an altarpiece and an obscure piece of custom wooden furniture. Below the fountain on a wooden plank lies a compressed sponge revealing tiny raised bits of wet surface where the spitting water has landed.

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Image Courtesy The Mom Gallery

The fruit-like sculpture components of the show were created with epoxy and artificial sugars such as Nerds and Jawbreakers. Fount of Mild Audacity actually comprised playground rocks and epoxy but had the same gritty surface as the sugar-based sculptures. The fountains simultaneously felt like spiritual relics and nebulous Williams-Sonoma home décor items—both domestic and divine, sitting perfectly in a living room that features a stained glass window.

Two of the walls housed large, smooth, purple sculptures with different phrases written on them: “babies having babies,” or, “moving in is the new marriage.” These look like giant, hardened doilies or decorative bath soaps—the kind that sometimes take on the deceptive appearance of candies. (That’s not just me, right?) But why do people even buy such tiny, ostentatious soaps? In theory they’re made to wash the body but in actuality used in home adornment. The phrases written on Lawrence’s soap-like sculptures seem to hark back to the spiritual vibe of the fountains: They spout aphorisms that comment on contemporary familial standards but in a fun and abridged way that is neither uncomfortable nor off-putting.

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Image Courtesy The Mom Gallery

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Image Courtesy The Mom Gallery

The third component of the show is a layout of small drawings throughout the space. Gestural and abstract, many of the drawings show hints of different body parts and several drawings have words scattered on them. The drawings are lovely in their subtly and formal application as they complement the colors and shapes of the sculptures they surround. And while the drawings certainly do not rely on their titles, the titles add another dimension to the work. Each title is long-winded and often remains as vague as the drawing itself, making it feel as if each piece is the line of a poem or story. It’s bad to be afraid of your body but sometimes it does things you don’t ask for, for instance, and Japanese buttrock with black-eyed-peas (or are they butter beans?)

While fruit is a popular metaphor for the body, Lawrence creates a physical awareness of this metaphor in Cantaloupe and integrates the domestic and metaphysical forces that our bodies are so often forced to inhabit and balance. It does so not critically but almost with hope.


Rebecca Marino is co-editor of Conflict of Interest. She also works as a visual artist and curator in Austin, TX.

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