Ivoire Foreman: I was busy thinkin’ bout toys
Weekends January 18th - February 16th, 2020
Opening reception Saturday, January 18th | 6-9p
haul gallery is thrilled to announce I was busy thinkin’ bout toys, a solo show by Ivoire Foreman. In this collection of sculptural assemblages, Brooklyn’s trash-toys come together with screws, castings and plastic paste. Bodily in form, they mirror boats, doll houses, maps, and animals. Each “body,” intricately detailed, creates curious connections into childhood worlds of imagination, gender, and sex assignment: a femme figure has sea creature skin and a Barbie's Dream House shower between its thighs. An accordion reclines, revealing streamer clad genitals. Ponies prance while t-rex's roar.
Much of Foreman’s work is a highly personal examination of gender – its varying expressions, expectations, and problems. Their work spans multiple media, with past projects exploring the gender fluidity of animals, where the artist depicted their own human body adorned with flamingo feathers, crow feathers, and a unicorn’s head. In one performance, entitled Transplaining, they told their own experience of being trans in plain language while interacting with personal objects like family photos, party decorations, and childhood toys. The relationship between whimsical, child-like aesthetics (similar to the illustrations in a children’s book) and a critical approach to our collective understanding of gender is a common throughline in Foreman’s practice.
These themes are continued in I was busy thinkin’ bout toys. Toys are often a child’s first interaction with enforced gender norms. The proliferation of gender specific toys is still prevalent today. Children’s toys are designed to be partly educational with what they normalize. They introduce kids to the kitchen, cars, and fine motor skills. They also introduce kids to performative gender expectations. Toys, however, are also a source of fond nostalgia. They are a reminder of when playtime and magic could be found in cheap plastic. Therefore, Foreman does not shy away from the charm of toys because of their gender-prescriptiveness – instead, the artist embraces their whimsy full-on by playing with the toys in a way they were not designed to be played with. They have cut apart and mashed together the discarded plastic to make it something better and more beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the toys were expected to do, it only matters what they’re doing right now.
Ivoire Foreman was born in the city of Lisa Frank's factory, in the year pac-man and lincoln logs. In 2007 Ivoire received their BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - birth place of the pinwheel. In 2015, they moved to the home of mr. potato head and scrabble - New York City. In 2017, Ivoire was awarded their MFA in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts, NYC. They tinker, play and create in Brooklyn, New York with their spouse, cat and four baby turtles.