Special/Signature Issues » The Arts 25

Another Set of Eyes

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KING_sculpture.jpg

Elizabeth King's sculptures, porcelain-faced articulated figures, look a lot like her. They also look like the women in her family, who, of course, look like each other, too. So she's working on versions of herself a lot of the time, which, after all, is the goal of the artist -- exploring the lost-and-found box of self.

"There's always a sense that she's making herself and remaking herself — even when she's not making herself," says Amy Hauft, chair of VCU's Department of Sculpture + Extended Media.

Whoever she is at any moment, she, along with husband, Carlton Newton, are the only two faculty members who remain from the original group that built up the department to national prominence. King has been with VCU since 1985, shaping both her own work and the boundaries of sculpture as an art form.

It's been almost 20 years since King last had a show here, but with the completion of the Visual Art Center of Richmond's new gallery space, King's work will be featured in a midcareer retrospective in December. Her work plays with the large and small — human-sized figures with an extraordinary depth of detail. She might be seen working in her studio wearing a jeweler's loupe, applying human hairs to sculpted eyelids, perhaps.

But her work goes beyond the sculptural to incorporate film animation: a clip of a moving wooden hand plays next to the articulated sculpture brought to life on-screen. She also incorporates anything from photography to a collection of glass eyes in her work, inanimate things that, like her larger pieces, seem to struggle with being just on the other side of life, looking in.

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