Demographic Design

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Each year the faculty and staff of the University of Memphis' art department select one graduating student to be featured in a solo show at the Jones Alumni Gallery. This year, Stephen Almond, class of 2010, will exhibit his work in a show titled, "Too Big To Fail." The opening reception is tomorrow evening, September 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Jones Hall Gallery at the intersection of Alumni and Desoto on the U of M campus.

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The show explores common cultural touchstones, which are based on certain "demographics" and so entrenched that they, like the recently bailed-out national banks, are "too big to fail."

One of the pieces is called "half shtick" and is a projection of Paula Deen's face on the wall with a glowing stick of butter in front of her (probably my favorite image... well, ever.) Another is a series of sculptures made out of a cake molds — "like all of the crazy Southern ladies bring to parties," says Almond. The cake sculptures are painted to look like big cakes made of solid butter. "It's about the gimmick of food," Almond explains. "I'm speaking to a lot of the gimmicks on t.v. and in the media right now."

Almond also manipulates photos from magazines, pointing out the exploitative qualities of mass media. "Demographics are kind of laid out [for us]," says Almond. "Are people the demographic or does media make people the demographic?"

The show will run until September 17. Admission is free.

Jones Hall Gallery, Jones Hall, room 109, 678-2019

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