The Art of It: Rockwell and Us
Photo by Kim Hubbard
When people first encounter Jarvis Rockwell’s art, the immediate response is how different it seems from his father Norman’s iconic images. A closer look reveals that while some of the materials and forms are universes apart, some of the underlying themes do intersect. Rockwell returns to MASS MoCA with his installation Us, which consists of a several glass panels suspended from the museum ceiling, arranged in such a way that they ascend to the heavens. Rockwell populates the installation with selections from his massive collection of action figures, who on the pathway are, as he describes it, “going onto glory.” His interest in the way we present the human form in manufactured toy form, especially that of super-powered and fantastical individuals, reveals a reflection of our collective desire for the human ideal—much as his father’s work did for the American ideal. But Jarvis Rockwell’s tongue is often in his cheek with this notion as he places the figures in mass movements and mini-scenarios, allowing objects we create for play to live their own lives and also satirize their creators.