Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Ima B. Gefraud has opened a new exhibit at the List Gallery on Friday after delivering her lecture “Art and the manifold possibilities of thumbtacks.” Gefraud’s work will be in the List through April 27.
Gefraud, who got her start the art world as a performance artist pretending to be a pile of shoes in Soho, has spent the past five years of her life manipulating alternative media to raise awareness of rare and endangered animal species. In her lecture, she highlighted some of her most critically acclaimed work, including art made from soggy Kellogg’s cereal, which she claims to have the most satisfying effect when dried of any common breakfast cereal.
Among her pieces at the List are some truly hideous examples of decoupage dresser drawers, stamped with the glowing image of burrowing potato weevils, and fantastically tacky statuary of giant cats in uncomfortable positions. “I try to channel the instincts of my subjects,” explained Gefraud in her lecture. “I want to feeeeel them when I work.”
When asked about her greatest award received, she responded, “My greatest compliment came from a ninety-five year old woman. She could barely see or hear, but before the nurses took her away she said to me, ‘That’s the darned prettiest toilet I ever did see,” and you see that’s exactly what I want. Art that evokes function without actually doing anything.”
Her interest in depicting the “Winged Lemur,” a symbol in her eyes of the tragic effect of man on nature, several students declared Gefraud to be a complete crackpot. In response, Gefraud argued, “Man has wiped out at least a million species of animal, why not the winged lemur, too? That no one has ever seen one is proof of what a horrendous effect humanity has had on this beautiful lost species.”