By Mario Naves, Curator
Originally published on Too Much Art in 2018
Few questions are as persistent — or frustrating — than those surrounding the meaning of what it is, exactly, to be human. Given the run of opinions and theories over the span of history, the human has proven a subject prone to perpetual re-definition.
Philosophers, politicians and religious leaders have attempted to interpret human nature and, in more than a few cases, codify it — sometimes for salutary purposes, sometimes not. If anything is constant about the “human”, it is inherent unpredictability, a slipperiness of need and ambition.
As we continue into the twenty-first century, how is the world we helped to shape shaping us? Every artist — at least, any artist worth her salt— works in response to the surrounding culture, if in ways that are closer to osmosis than reportage. Historical context doesn’t determine aesthetic worth, but it would be foolhardy to deny its influence. There is no escaping our self-awareness as a species. The artists featured in “Half Human” elaborate upon this predicament in ways that reaffirm its primacy.
The sculptures and assemblages of Pat Lay make a point of how technology is transforming the collective body and mind: her totemic visages combine the mechanical and the iconic, suggesting a dystopia that is less futuristic than we might like to admit.