Morgan Legare wanted to pitch a gallery show in the University Center, but as a 22-year-old student artist, she was worried she wouldn’t have enough work to fill the space.
So she asked her friend and fellow student Jerod Peitsmeyer to collaborate on a show that would feature Legare’s art and Peitsmeyer’s “responsive” pieces.
“We only met twice,” Legare said. “Every time we would update the layout of the show, but we couldn’t see each other’s art.”
That was because the two were working simultaneously on large-scale installations, made of found objects and many media.
“His art is very different than mine,” Legare continued. “I’m a very anxious person, so it was an interesting process for me.”
The finished show at the UC Gallery, named “Exquisitely Crude,” examines nostalgia and memory through both artist’s unique styles.
Peitsmeyer’s found-art sculptures contrast with Legare’s paintings, ceramics and mixed-media works in three installations. A fourth installation features just Legare’s work and found objects.
Peitsmeyer’s take is memory as decay, something that slowly bleeds out over time, whereas Legare sees it as pristine sentimentality. Peitsmeyer noted their ages— he’s 40 and she’s 22.
“I do wonder if it has to do with that,” Peitsmeyer said. “My pieces are more a conceptual idea of nostalgia.”
“Preservation versus decay,” Legare added.
The centerpiece, “Till Death Do Us Part,” has three antique white dresses hanging on the wall, one covered in brown rust. A rusted metal mannequin bust faces the dresses, mounted on a small stand.
“I collected the wedding dresses and gave them to him to do with as he will,” Legare said.
Peitsmeyer hung one of the dresses on the mannequin and poured water over it repeatedly until the fabric took on a rusted tone that looks quite a bit like dried blood. That dress is hung in between two plain white ones.
Legare said one visitor pointed at the “bloody” dress and asked if the piece was about sexual assault and the oft-repeated statistic one in three women have been sexually assaulted. The initial idea was more along the lines of a commentary on dying from tradition.
“It opens up a whole world of interpretation,” Legare noted.
Another installation features Legare’s floral painted ceramic plates, hung up above an old wooden table. A table drawer spills over with rusted metal and pheasants Peitsmeyer had pulled from a collection of animal parts. A piece of brown floral fabric is from a couch in Legare’s family cabin she frequented as a child.
Peitsmeyer showed the rusty decay on a huge chunk of metal, telling Legare how happy he was with the naturally-aged patina and how it rubbed off on the rest of the installation.
She laughed, noting her usual style of methodical control wouldn’t allow her to work that way.
“That tension between the disparate nature of the work and the disparate nature of our lives … that tension kept me invigorated,” Peitsmeyer said.
“It definitely gave the show more energy,” Legare agreed.