This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 28, 2011 - For "Follow the Leader," Guerra de la Paz (the collaborative team of Cuban-born artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz) fashioned heaps of discarded clothing and shoes into a centipede-like organism that snakes around the Craft Alliance gallery in Grand Center.
It's a visually stunning work, with riotous clashes of color, pattern, texture and style. But it's also a bit depressing to consider what the work represents: a consumption cycle that demands the overproduction of goods and results in choking accumulations of perfectly usable, cast-off goods. (The sub-economies of charity stores and relief operations can only absorb a fraction of this ever-growing surfeit of stuff.)
As a metaphor of this process, it's perfectly appropriate that Guerra de la Paz's beast has no head, only a set of marching legs progressing blindly into an uncertain future.
Ivy Cooper is the Beacon visual arts reviewer and a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.