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American Paradigms: David Opdyke and Lane Twitchell

February 14 - April 5, 2004  


Made up of obsessively constructed miniature models and mandala-like forms, American Paradigms is designed to provoke viewers to question their surroundings and the seemingly innocuous objects around them. This exhibition pairs two New York-based artists, David Opdyke and Lane Twitchell, in an exploration of the contemporary American cultural and political landscape. Opdyke's highly-engineered sculptures and Twitchell's intricate paper cutouts depict the artists' commentary on a country that, in their view, is hyper-commercialized and psychologically disassociated. Organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, American Paradigms: David Opdyke and Lane Twitchell is on view from February 14 through April 5, 2004.

"This exhibition marks the first time that David and Lane have shown their work in a museum," notes Stacey Schmidt, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran. "We are continuing the Corcoran tradition of showing young, up and coming artists."

American Paradigms features 25 works, including Opdyke's atrium installation of thousands of paper airplanes made from pages of an Arabic-English dictionary, specially commissioned for the Corcoran. Opdyke's artworks rekindle childhood memories of such small-scale diversions as model building, miniature railroading and playing with Matchbox cars. His detailed works suggest larger problems in a world of ominous portent, an evocation that contrasts sharply with the playfully miniaturized environments he creates. For instance, Oil Empire is constructed of intricate miniature oil pipelines and tanks that form a complex, three-dimensional matrix in the form of a U.S. map. "The topographical quality of this work shows the labyrinth of pipelines stretching across the United States," adds Opdyke. "Oil Empire also illustrates the prevalence of refineries in the country and the universal convenience of our oil distribution system."

Exploring themes of suburbia and domestic architecture, Lane Twitchell intends for his works to refer to the overindulgent nature of contemporary American life. According to Twitchell, "The assemblage paintings, drawings and models grow from contradictory impulses. On one hand, I recognize the wasteful, overly consumptive nature of this lifestyle - SUVs, fast food, television - all of it. But at the same time, I regard it with deep affection."

Twitchell's works often resemble complex electronic circuit boards, yet upon closer examination the viewer realizes that they are actually grids made of paper, cut and folded into elaborate floral and geometric designs frequently embellished with glitter or mirrors. Through the use of a fold-and-cut paper technique informed by traditional handicrafts that were part of his Mormon upbringing such as quilting and lace making, Twitchell has created a hybrid of painting and modelmaking. In Mythic America or How the West Was One , Twitchell combines elements of the American West, evoking its expansionist history using symbols as diverse as the Golden Spike, silhouetted cowboys and Robert Smithson's 1970 landwork, Spiral Jetty.

"A paradigm is defined as a 'pattern' or 'model' - both words that literally describe the models and paper cut-outs that are important components of David and Lane's artwork," adds Schmidt. "But the title of this exhibition is also tongue-in-cheek in that the artists' interpretations of American culture aren't necessarily holding us up as a paradigm in the more common sense of the word. Their art calls into question our idealized conception of ourselves as a nation even as it simultaneously celebrates those conceptions. 'American paradigm' holds radically different meanings depending on where one is in the world."



David Opdyke was born in 1969 and received his BFA in Painting and Sculpture at the University of Cincinnati in 1992. Opdyke's work is included in private collections and he has had several solo and group shows around the country.

Lane Twitchell was born in Salt Lake City in 1967 and received his MFA at the School of Visual Arts (New York) in 1995. He has exhibited primarily in the New York City area; his work is included in several private collections.



American Paradigms: David Opdyke and Lane Twitchell is organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art.


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