From an early age, Midwest born artist Michael Campbell has made a connection between handcrafted objects and the divine. Using the mushroom as his talisman, Campbell explores the roles they play as natural 'decomposers' of dead, organic matter as well as symbols of altered states of consciousness throughout history. The bold red and white spotted caps of the immediately identifiable amanita muscaria are iconic symbols and colors referenced worldwide, from contemporary Christian holiday rituals such as Christmas to Siberian Shamans engaged in vision quests. Campbell works with these mushrooms specifically in reference to their depiction as forbidden fruit in the Christian fresco found in the Plaincouroualt Abbey.
Campbell's sculpture speaks to a visual language unique to the 1970's through bright colors and painted plaster casts reminiscent of chalkware banks of that era. They suggest hand painted, mass-produced tchotchkes of divine sacraments, mushroom saints, and forest spirits.
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