Time Stretch, the current exhibition at the UCF Art Gallery, is a resplendent commentary on the joyful absurdities of everyday life. Artists Erin Elizabeth and Harry William Sidebotham II have combined their creative energies to produce Time Stretch under the name Elizabeth/Sidebotham. With each artist contributing equal parts to the art-making process—a parallel to their personal relationship—Time Stretch explores the contradictions found in day-to-day living wrapped in kaleidoscopic colors.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is presented with splashes of color on stark white walls. These pops of color are highly detailed artworks that, on closer inspection, turn out to be composed of wildly unconventional art materials. Baby food labels, drinking straws, unopened soy sauce packets and discarded medications are combined with traditional art materials such as acrylic paint, silver leaf and gold foil to create paradoxical collages and mandalas celebrating the sanctity of the mundane.
In fact, paradox is a theme that permeates this exhibition. For example, on the surface, the installation Waste Not Want Not feels like a child’s play area. Created from a living room curtain and a baby play mat, the space is a welcoming rainbow wonderland of some by-products of raising two toddlers: yogurt containers, drinking straws, confetti, and a toy car—but it’s the inclusion of “nine years of Xacto blades” that gives this piece its edge. What appears colorful and inviting also has obvious dangers: thus, the paradox and complexity of raising children in the 21st century.
Interestingly, Elizabeth and Sidebotham are adamant about the role parenting plays in their art-making process. They often incorporate ideas, suggestions and observations their young sons (ages 2 and 4) offer, and believe that it’s their sons’ insights that contribute to the playfulness of the artwork despite the complex conceptual themes. The artists stress the profound contributions of their children, and celebrate having children as complementary to a career in art, not a challenge to overcome. Indeed, high-concept existential works like those in Time Stretch are made all the more palatable when covered in frosting and sprinkles.