View Student Opportunities
Submit a Student Opportunity
I recently went to Target for the first time since quarantine began. I told myself I was going for paper towels, but deep down I knew I was searching for the vague euphoria I once had when browsing the shelves of big box stores. Finding wares and playthings I never knew I needed but also knew I could maybe afford. The sheer comfort of the abundance of things. And yet, on this trip the entire enterprise felt frivolous. After four months of staying home and making do, everything looked cheap and unnecessary. The rows of plastic sunglasses, the fake leather shoes, lame dangly earrings, just the whole accumulation of so much crap. They were out of paper towels and so I left with nothing, feeling gross.
The total abundance of stuff might be the ethos of Cobra McVey’s work, a Houston-based artist and Dodd alum. McVey transforms thrift store objects and mass-produced consumer goods into playful assemblages. The works personify any number of personalities while also perversely delighting in and acting as warnings of mass industrialization. In Makeover Kingdom, she employs the various roles of the King’s court to create a series of objects that, according to her “speak to the modern consumer’s infatuation with material goods, both physical and emotional.” Thus, a large plastic yoga ball is the King, the Queen a hemorrhoid cushion, the Prince a giant baby bottle, the Lord of War a red plastic caveman bat.
McVey has spent her career attracted to and repelled by plastic, a dichotomy that she traces to her childhood. “I loved the individually plastic wrapped Kraft Cheese singles vs. the giant lump of cheese singles that you could peel slices off,” she explains. “I liked the space age vibe they had, and at that time I was completely unaware of the environmental consequences of those now sinister seeming plastic envelopes. Not to mention that the cheese itself was questionably plastic, but that’s a whole other conversation.”
The works in Makeover Kingdom, built out of various plastics and throw-away things, are made distinct by McVey’s humorous and outlandish accoutrements. Two buck “teeth” are added to the pink puffed lips of the High Priest. Fake bejeweled nails jut out of the Queen. A shiny blue eye patch adorns the Lord of War. She essentially gives these items makeovers, refashioning them all at once into glamorous and sinister stuff. She states, “I want each assemblages to be simultaneously adorable and vulgar, humorous and pathetic, child-appropriate and obscene.” Whereas I left Target defeated, McVey would have seen art -- more plastic crap to transform into magical dark beings.
-- Katie Geha, Director of the Dodd Galleries
Cobra McVey is a Houston based artist who uses found objects and recycled synthetic materials in combination with traditional art making techniques to create futuristic environments that reference contemporary culture. She is the lead singer and guitarist for Winelord, a female punk rock trio hatched from the same B-movie aesthetic that influences her visual art. She is also co-founder, costume maker, and a major dancer of The Bar-B-Que Gang Dance Troupe, an enterprise that combines design and performance. McVey received an MFA from the University of Georgia in 2012 and has been an Artist-in-Residence at Virginia Commonwealth University, The Vermont Studio Center, and Houston’s Post-Studio Projects and Lawndale Art Center. She has lived in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Georgia but now considers Texas home. Her work has been screened at festivals and exhibited nationally.