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Casey Schachner stands underneath her sculpture "Wish You Were Here," made of nearly 10,000 paper umbrellas, ordered from a restaurant supply company. The piece is the standout of her MFA exhibit "Greetings From..." that examines Schachner's home state of Florida with a critical eye and sense of humor.

A lawn chair one can’t sit in, alongside a potentially unsafe golf course. Tens of thousands of paper umbrellas blob along the ceiling like brightly colored slime mold.

What’s the cost of leisure and travel? Is the waste personified — both beautiful and bothersome — going to make one think twice about their spring break’s effect on the world?

How about in Florida?

The Sunshine State is home to Casey Schachner, master of fine arts graduate. Her years going to school in Montana have given her a different view on the state, known across the United States as the home of “Florida man...” and oranges, a catchall of natural beauty and the strangest of stories (alligators on golf courses) that capture the nation's attention.

“Being so far from home gave me perspective about home,” Schachner said. “I wanted to talk about a place that I know intimately, but people also knew about.”

Schachner accomplishes this conversation through bright-hued sculptures, using kiln-fired glass, AstroTurf and those thousands of drink umbrellas, turning iconic images of spring break and beach vacations into something more contemplative.

“Lawn Chair” uses the plastic and aluminum frame of a classic webbed fold-up chair, with Schachner adding kiln-fired, woven glass as the seat and back. The orange, green and white glass pieces look sturdy enough, though Schachner cautioned it’s not for sitting.

“These were technically the most complicated pieces that I made,” she said, although “it’s something ordinary and everyday."

“We all have one of these stashed in our garage.”

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"Lawn Chair" reconstructs the foldable chair out of kiln-fired glass on the original frame, giving an iconic vacation item a sense of fragility and beauty. "These were technically the most complicated pieces that I made," Schachner said.

An as-yet-untitled golf-themed piece uses large planes of AstroTurf cut in long fairway stretches. More kiln-fired glass lies on top of the grass, this time translucent molds of alligator skin, as though a shedding snake slithered its way over the lawn.

The piece, like most of Schachner’s exhibit, acknowledges and pokes fun at Florida clichés, while still pressing viewers for something deeper, to consider the human-animal interface or maybe just the idea of golf courses, a faux-natural setting. (The piece is also in honor of Schachner’s father, a longtime golf course superintendent in Florida, who died in 2018).

Schachner’s exhibit covers even more ground — there’s a series of fired resin conch shells, that literally play sounds of the ocean (along with ambient sounds from Disney World and a hotel pool) when one puts a shell to an ear. A tall plastic sheet with bright green letters (this time made of outdoor carpet, not AstroTurf) spells out words and phrases associated with Florida, good and bad.

“I wanted to make a piece about what we think is so great about a place like Florida, but also shows the contrast … that’s a little bit humorous but also critical.”

The centerpiece of “Greetings From…” is “Wish You Were Here,” the paper umbrella sculpture that hangs in the entry hallway underneath spotlights, reflecting green, pink and orange onto the walls like disposable stained glass.

The piece is massive, stretching the length of the hall and around the far corner, with the unfurled umbrellas glued together in amorphous domes that dip above one’s head.

“This was only one box I ordered from a restaurant supply company,” Schachner noted. 

If those 10,000 (give or take) umbrellas are just one box, Schachner said, she wonders how many are served and thrown away during a Daytona Beach spring break.

“It’s a little bit magical, but when you start thinking about how many there are, it gets a little overwhelming.”

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.