Unraveling art

âÄúWhat You See is What You GetâÄù by Wendy Deschene WHEN: Time and day, through date if applicable WHERE: Larson Art Gallery, St. Paul Student Center TICKETS: Free Admission Stuffing-less Simbas sewn into eyeless teddy-bears from childhoods past and trampled lizards rising from tossed-out canvasses lay strewn on the floor of the Larson Gallery in the St. Paul Student Center. TheyâÄôre a part of âÄúWhat You See is What You Get,âÄù a n exhibit centering on the theme of interactive art and the subversion of what we call âÄúcuteness.âÄù The artist behind this frenzied mash-up of youth is Wendy Deschene. With her youthful enthusiasm and a stunningly explosive laugh, she talks in an animated blast of free-flowing art references with a plastic white palette in her left hand, a momentous brush in the other, and flecks of red paint on her arms. She looks up from her masterpiece, crimson and orange podiums rising from the tendrils of scattered Frankendolls. âÄúWYSIWYGâÄù is a monstrous, traveling installation art show that morphs and grows in response to each space it visits. âÄúThey wouldnâÄôt let me paint the wall but I convinced them to let me paint two podiums,âÄù she explains with a smirk. The exhibit has wandered from Philadelphia to Texas, even previously making a stop in Moorehead, MN . If allergic to cuteness, entrance to the museum could be a throat-closing anaphylactic attack of adorable stuffed animals. But this show isnâÄôt about being cute, Deschene argues, but instead the deconstruction of âÄúcuteâÄù as it exists in our society. Upon closer inspection, there is nothing purely adorable about stuffed ostriches sewn into the remnants of disassembled Beanie Babies . On the walls hang enormous surreal canvases, where half-blinking eyes evolved from a beige-pink cloud. Deschene is bent on destroying the paradigm between art and the public, where paintings are taken from their context and placed in a calm museum displayed simply as something beautiful. âÄúWe forget that the impressionists were badasses,âÄù she says, âÄúthat Van Gogh cut off his ear.âÄù Everyone forgets that artists resonate today because they shot a big âÄúF youâÄù to the socially-accepted artists of the time. âÄúWYSIWYGâÄù is an interactive installation, gaining momentum and work with each stop. Students visiting the installation are allowed to shred donated stuffed animals and weave them back together in an outpouring of childish creativity, and finally to contribute them to the show. Elements of the show speak to every single person that will walk into the exhibit. On the wall, a thick band of red strewn between two large blue stripes is a reference to âÄúVoice of Fire,âÄù a famous painting by Barnett Newman. âÄúI wanted to make it so everyone got something âĦ someone with an art history background would walk in and say, âÄòOh, thatâÄôs Voice of Fire,âÄô but other people will be able to walk in and see circus stripes.âÄù It is this spectrum of meaning that makes âÄúWYSIWYGâÄù true to its title. It is simple to walk in and appreciate cuteness for its own sake, and Deschene is happy to entertain these whims, but the show offers deeper meanings for those who seek them. Whether you are an art critic or an 8-year-old, âÄúWYSIWYGâÄù is an enthralling excursion into a surreal world where goats have lobster legs and talking toys hang by their pull strings from pillars.