Surrealism extolled the imaginative transformation of found objects (objets trouves) as exemplified in Meret Oppenheim's iconic fur-lined teacup. East Bay artist Susan Danis continues that tradition, transforming anonymous materials into strange and funny objets d'art. An intrepid scavenger, Danis forages in thrift stores and hardware stores for socks, shoes, dentures, toys, garters, feather boas, dolls, rope, hearing-aid cord, shoelaces, and parakeet bells; and in nature (as well as specialized shops) for amber, coral, barnacles, feathers, horns, claws, pearls, teeth, fish vertebrae, human and animal hair, and the odd freeze-dried mole. These improbable ingredients populate her offbeat eggs, pendants, shrines and articles of furniture.Frog Egg is a glass sphere containing silicone super balls bearing tiny, plastic, bouncing baby animals; Octopus Egg is a terracotta oval studded with glass light-bulb sockets, like potato eyes; and Peacock Egg, with its cracked shell of ceramic and stained-glass patches, exudes fragility despite its size and apparent heft. Danis's globular pendant sculptures, which hang from the ceiling, generally suspended by heavy chains with large hooks, include Rococo Pleasure Ball, a fluorescent orange, hot pink and lime-green fantasia of doggie chew toys and plastic beads; and Snake Ball, a colony of interlaced vipers composed of interlaced rubber piping and metal chain. Among the shrine sculptures are Partial Palate Reliquary, a gloriously opulent triptych of dentures, pet brushes, and taxidermy glass eyes, everything set within a gum-like red matrix, with a central orifice exuding a hairy tongue; Rapunzel's Hair, with its family of vacuum-cleaner nozzles, suggesting both lampreys and phalluses, framed by braided tresses; and Industrial Coral Reliquary, baby hippo teeth and a strand of silvered coral displayed to advantage against black velvet in a gilded baroque frame. The furniture sculptures include two Cage pieces stuffed with white feathers, but no birds, and a sequined, pretty-in-pink Loveseat made for spirited solo equitation. Art theory in recent years has denied reality; Danis' cheerfully weird fantasy, paradoxically, refutes such glum solipsism. Long live delirium.
This article was written for and published in art ltd. magazine