Exhibition Details

Cute & Creepy

Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State UniversityOctober 14 – November 20, 2011

Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University
530 West Call Street, 250 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32306
museum hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 4pm
Saturday & Sunday, 1pm - 4pm
(closed Veterans Day)
visiting artist lecture: Thursday, October 13, 7pm
Judith Schaechter
249 Fine Arts Building
opening reception: Friday, October 14, 7-9pm
gallery walk: Wednesday, November 2, 3pm
led by writer Nancy Hightower
  All events are free and open to the public.

Revelatory Monsters – Deconstructive Hybrids, The Grotesque, and Pop Surrealism

(this is an excerpt from the full essay presented in the exhibition catalog)

We need monsters in our lives.

We like to fear them, to run hiding under the covers or clenching a lover's arm until the monster is destroyed or banished to far off lands. they are wonderful like that, refusing to ever completely disappear from our lives, affording us the opportunity for self-introspection if we take a moment to recognize that monsters don’t die because they are essentially us (Cohen 5). Once they are eradicated from our cultural memory, we go, too. And that monstrous, wondrous body is at the heart of the grotesque. From the playful grotteschi unearthed in the Domus Aurea to demons of the illuminated manuscripts that overflowed from the margins onto the actual text, the monstrous body has always threatened what our culture has desired to contain (or perhaps more accurately, trapped, vetted, and fixed to incorporate whatever impossible standards it has set up to differentiate us from them). But the monstrous body is also prophetic in nature.

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues that as a “construct and a projection, the monster exists only to be read: the monstrum is etymologically ‘that which reveals’ that which warns…like a letter on the page, the monster signifies something other than itself”. What sets up this kind of fulcrum is society itself: “The too-precise laws of nature as set forth by science are gleefully violated in the freakish compilation of the monster's body. A mixed category, the monster resists any classification built on hierarchy or a merely binary opposition, demanding instead a ‘system’ allowing polyphony, mixed response (difference in sameness, repulsion in attraction), and resistance to integration…”. These kinds of juxtapositions are what form the definition of the grotesque.

Nancy E. Hightower, University of Colorado

About the Museum of Fine Arts

In 1970, in a brand new building, the Museum first opened its doors as the Fine Arts Gallery, run by faculty from the visual arts. Eventually that administrative model was left behind in order to concentrate holdings of the permanent collection and to increase the impact of an ambitious programme of exhibitions with a consuming calendar of events. Forty years on, in 2011, the Museum of Fine Arts has a record of published scholarship and is accredited by the American Association of Museums, while it has never once lost sight of the vigor of its original relationships: and so it is with great pride that we present the guest curatorial project of Carrie Ann Baade, a faculty member in painting in the Department of Art.

Carrie arrived at Florida State University charged with enthusiasm (which she has never lost despite the endless details required in curating an exhibition). From her arrival in 2007, Carrie was in possession of knowledge of a stratum of painters and sculptors whose adept use of pictorial naturalism is the armature beneath convincing, yet subversive, visions of reality. In this endeavor, she has collaborated with writer Nancy E. Hightower, at the University of Colorado, whose essay “Revelatory monsters” is both spirited and wise.

Carrie's sense of humor and her sense of the absurd were both at play in her proposal submitted to peers at the University in order to win an Arts & Humanities Program Enhancement Grant from the Council on Research and Creativity. With that success as leverage, the museum wrote additional external grants for amenities of the project.

There is always a flurry of activity – and students – around Carrie. For several seasons she has not only worked in her studio, taught classes, but also been a prime mover in a beloved alternate space, the 621 Gallery of Railroad Square. Carrie is a generous supporter of other artists, a painter of rare talent, herself, and a vivacious colleague.

The Museum of Fine Arts takes great pleasure in welcoming audiences to Carrie Ann Baade's Cute & Creepy.

Allys Palladino-Craig, Director, MoFA

Curator's Note

With the recent and publicly-celebrated exhibitions of Tim Burton at MOMA and Edward Gorey at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, now is the time to revel in the genre of the macabre. This work is cute and it's creepy…it's what I like about contemporary art.

After growing up wondering whether all the great art had already been made, I feel there are more amazing artists working now than ever before.

Over the past six years, I have exhibited with the artists taking part in this show or have discovered their work through attending their exhibitions. It's been such a pleasure to see the rise of this wave of dark art and the Pop surrealists that this exhibition promotes.

To see beauty in the carnivalesque or macabre, in freaks and in monsters, is a matter of aesthetics. Most of us can agree on the artistic value of a Monet or Titian but this work is for a daring audience, an audience open to exploring the strange beauty and the ecstasy inherent in our culture's aversions.

There is something that makes us uneasy when confronted by the weird or the unusual. Those who can appreciate both have come to anticipate and enjoy unexpected sensations. Work of this nature is not going to be an underground movement any longer: the grotesque is going mainstream.

Carrie Ann Baade, Florida State University

Special Events

Judith Schaechter - Rape Serenade
Visiting Artist Lecture – Thursday, October 13, 7pm

Cute & Creepy exhibiting artist Judith Schaechter will give a presentation of her work as part of the FSU Department of Art's Visiting Artist Lecture Series, in FAB room 249.

Nancy Hightower
Gallery Walk – Wednesday, November 2, 3pm

Nancy Hightower, author of the exhibition catalog essay “Revelatory Monsters”, will lead a gallery walk to discuss the works selected for Cute & Creepy.