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Review: Delectable, yet provocative, art at Laumeier

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2009 - Roberley Bell's "Inside Out" at Laumeier Sculpture Park is a marvelous collection of the artist's artificial topiaries: candy-color blobs adorned with fake flowers and fruit, animal figurines and preserved insects.

They're absolutely delectable, but also pose some interesting questions about the boundaries between nature and culture, and our persistent habit of asserting control over the natural world.

The "Flower Blob" and "Other Landscape" series by the artist are well represented here, as are her "Wonder" works, which are based loosely on the historical "Wunderkammer," or cabinets of curiosities.

There's also a striking video -- the only one the artist has ever made -- of a cardinal continually slamming into a window. He's either attracted to his own reflection, or trying to fly into the space on the other side of the glass. Either way, it's a little painful to watch, and represents the dark side of Roberley Bell's thematics, the side that gets a little lost in all the bright colors, bunnies and birds in the other sculptures.

Bell is a sculpture professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has shown her work nationwide; this is her largest show to date.

Ivy Cooper is a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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