The Perlman Museum is currently hosting two exhibitions: Pulchra Scientia: The Aesthetics of Discovery and UnikKautte: The Carleton Inuit Art Collection. Pulchra Scientia is an exhibition described by the Museum as featuring work by “contemporary artists that communicate current scientific developments.” These scientific ideas are contrasted with innovative uses of creativity to showcase work that is at once a commentary on the state of human progress and artistically intricate; these pieces are beautiful and intellectually engaging.
One piece in particular by Louis Wain, an artist from the early 20th century who struggled with schizophrenia, stands out: painted pictures of cats which get more and more psychedelic. Some scholars suggest that they illustrate Wain’s worsening mental state. This series of paintings causes you to think about the possible relationship between mental illness and increased creativity.
Another work in the Pulchra Scientia exhibition is “Turducken à la Monsanto,” a taxidermy piece by Sarina Brewer. The taxidermic sculpture is composed of the heads of a duck, a turkey, and a rooster on the same body. The description accompanying the piece says that it’s “a commentary on the ridiculousness and entitlement of gourmet foods, the privilege of being able to allocate food for the purpose of art, and the disconcerting technology of interspecies grafting performed by the bioengineering industry.” Many pieces in the exhibition portray this kind of artistic crossroads between aesthetic and a socio-scientific statement.
The other current Perlman exhibition is UnikKautte, a collection showcasing the art of Inuit prints. The collection is mainly from second half of the 20th century and which were gifted by Kip Lilly ’71. These prints are vividly colorful and unique, and, as described by the Museum, are “sparse and carefully edited scenes that challenge ‘conventional’ notions of perspective and narrative” that reflect different aspects of Inuit life from community to spirituality to hunting.
A significant contributor to many of the works presented in UnikKautte is Luke Anguhadluq, an Inuit printer from Baker Lake in Nunavut, Canada. One visually striking piece is “The Men Hunting Caribou in Kayaks,” created 1978, which shows an aerial view of three kayaks and a linear view of three caribou. Anguhadluq continues the theme of animal and human interaction in “Caribou Man,” which explores Inuit religion and how Inuits view animals, making no distinction between animate and inanimate objects. As indicated by its description in the Museum, this piece reflects the value that everything with a name has a spirit or a soul independent of its physicality.
Another standout work in UnikKautte comes from Pudlo Pudlat. Created in 1961, “Harpoons and Seal” shows a barrage of harpoons hurtling towards a cluster of white seals gathered in a large crack in the ice. All these Inuit prints reflect a way of life often left invisible to most of the world.
Both of these exhibitions offer a new perspective on different cultures and of human society. The exhibitions are available for visitation in the Perlman Museum through November 14.