Smile Politely

Sirens in the Night brings local talent together

It was an unusual evening for the casual Saturday night Champaign crowd as they either stumbled upon or were lured by a troupe of Burlesque dancers to attend “Sirens in the Night,” a micro-urban art exhibit held at Indi Go art co-op.

The show opened its doors at 9 p.m. commencing 3 hours of music, dancing performance, art and free champagne after which the audience was allowed to take their favorite art pieces home.

Hosted by Indi Go gallery — a local art co-op that has been a beacon for emerging artists since 2009 — “Sirens of the Night” can be summarized as a success of promoting art collaboration between different local artists with an agenda to “share” local artwork, send a message of femininity and destabilize the line between the artist, his work and the audience.

The art of non-attachment

David Wilcoxen, a local artist and the man behind the creation of the “Sirens” — the towering 7 foot female dolls made from recycled cardboard — got the inspiration for creating his dolls from the Greek myth of Sirens, the dangerous women who lured sailors with their beauty and music to shipwreck.

Be it the one arm juggler, a nun that “led men to find salvation in her arms” or a passionate and exotic Esmeralda, each of the 20 dolls has her own unique look, name and personality. David used a variety of materials such as paint, wrapping butcher paper, fabrics, and others to give each doll her own spice.

These Sirens are monoliths of female power, enigma and sexuality; they represent an unconscious scream for attention and desire. Intimidating and even threatening at times, in the face of each doll rests a smile of satisfaction and self-acceptance.

“They are happy with their lives” said David.

The Sirens are very entertaining. They communicate a range of emotions and stories. Each face has been carefully chiseled to denote difference and behind every birth mark, smile or a smirk lays a deeper sense of individuality.

After asking David to disclose the thought behind the creation of the “Sirens” he answered “There is power in femininity.” A curt, yet concise answer empowers not only the female essence but also the audience, which is given plenty of room to interpret their own experience of the event.

In the past, David has made approximately a total of 75 “Sirens”, and has randomly placed his dolls around Urbana-Champaign area with a mission to share his art with the Urbana-Champaign community and the larger sense of the world community.

His work takes a creative spin on urban-art concept. As opposed to other forms of street art the dolls enable the audience to interact with them, touch them, move them and even take them home. “Visual space has essentially no owner” is the motto of the Indi Go art co-op.

The dolls are on their own journey, unbound and free.

Local collaboration

The show derived its balance from collaboration between different local artists.

“It is really nice to see so much local talent come together” said Matthew Pear, the co-founder of Carnivale Debauche, who along with his Burlesque dancing team made an appearance at the show.

The dancers represented the real, live Sirens who, much like their mythological counterparts, went around downtown Champaign and wooed the anonymous pedestrians to the show. Dj Dreea’s contemporary mix of music endowed the show with a musical accompaniment that complimented the event’s surreal, atmospheric mood.

The sirens, along with the lights went off at midnight, marking the end of the show. The crowd of people took their favorite dolls with them.

Dozens of people went out into the cool night carrying their gifts in different directions.

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Photo and video credit goes to Laura Mazzaro.


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