Contemporary Reactions: A Menagerie of the Human Body

Rona Pondick’s intricate sculptures immediately catch the interest of the Museum’s guests when they walk into the Main Gallery. The sculpture’s human appendages that seamlessly morph with abstract animal bodies examine the body, while also creating parallels to historically and culturally significant pieces of art. Feintuch’s paintings also portray the human body, but in a more mundane and colorful way. The combination of these unusual points of view have stirred the curiosity of many of the museum’s patrons.

Two guests enjoyed the juxtaposition between the realistic, soft, and fluid aspects of Pondick’s sculptures, as well as the contrast in sizes between the human and animal parts of her sculptures. Her hyper-realistic portrayals of human hands, feet, and heads in contrast with the smooth and reflective animal bodies shows the dissonance between humans and the rest of the animal world. However, the seamless transition between the human and animal aspects also creates a conflicting sense of unity. “It kind of made it seem like we are all sort of the same thing,” said one patron. “The use of the same hands, faces, and feet created a sense of unity and sameness between the sculptures.” This connection demonstrates how we all share innate similarities in how we interact with the environment around us.

“Pondick’s sculptures fragment the human body, illustrating the contemporary theme that shows the unsettledness of life right now,” comments a professor from the University of Utah.

Feintuch’s paintings have drawn visitors in with their bright and vibrant use of color as well as the use of recurring images of feet and backs. One visitor observed how the paintings, as a collective, told her a story—one that was cohesive, even if difficult to identify. The use of recurring colors, subjects, and painting techniques seems to create this sense of unity.

Both Pondick’s and Feintuch’s sculptures and paintings demonstrate how contemporary art has shifted its focus from traditional portrayals of the body. “Pondick’s sculptures fragment the human body, illustrating the contemporary theme that shows the unsettledness of life right now,” comments a professor from the University of Utah. She described how historical pieces tended to show humans as exalted beings, whereas this contemporary art showed them as more complex beings. The use of fragmentation and distortion in both Pondick’s and Feintuch’s works reflects the tension and conflict in modern life. Their simultaneously quixotic and grotesque portrayals of the human body reveal how we as a society view and treat ourselves. –Nikita Abraham