The White Wall: Lakshmi

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by Madelyn Sundquist, Staff Writer

Judy Fox’s Lakshmi is currently on display on the 4th floor of the Chazen Museum of Art. Originally a part of the Chazen’s “The Human Condition” exhibition in Fall 2014, Fox has found her way into permanent standing with the museum. The New York-based artist is known for her uncanny figural work. Through it she explores the projection of human form onto a viewer in the same space as conflicting cultural beliefs.

Lakshmi, 1999, is a hyper-real terracotta sculpture of a young nude girl, frozen mid-dance.  Her nudity is emphasized through the position of the girl, making it more than a mere Western art commonality. The dance pose of Lakshmi is classically depicted by a consort of the Hindu god, Vishnu. Fox presents a conflict of sensuality and youth, placing a young girl in the pose of a grown female divinity. Her face looks upwards and out, commanding the reverence of a goddess while communicating the vulnerability of childhood. The piece provokes discomfort and intrigue in the hypothetical life of Lakshmi, who simultaneously appears an earthly child and a grown deity. Judy Fox’s use of the uncanny keeps the viewer alert. Her technical rendering of the girl,with her image confrontational, proves inconsistent with prevailing cultural values.

Lakshmi now resides permanently at the Chazen with several other uncanny works from “The Human Condition,” available to startle and fascinate viewers six days a week.

2 Replies to “The White Wall: Lakshmi”

  1. Excellently written regarding the artist and the various aspects of youth, nudity, non-verbal communications in the young girl’s stance and facial-expression, as well as helping us “tie-in” and understand the Hindu religious meanings.

    The major negative, in my opinion, is the she did not show and similarly interpret the other works on exhibit at the Chazen which reportedly artistically depict “The Human Condition”.

    For those of us who live on either coast and, therefore, will not likely get to U. Wisconsin-Madison soon, this article leaves an uncomfortable gap. I think especially for those persons who, as am I, working in the Mental Health Field.

    I am wondering: would Ms. Sundquist consider writing similar insightful, illuminating, and informative articles about “The Human Condition” depicted at the Chazen?


    Thomas N. Carter, M.D.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tom! The White Wall is a column dedicated to promoting specific pieces in galleries and museums around Madison. While I would love to talk about the Human Condition exhibit for pages and pages, I reserve my exhibit reviews for longer pieces.

      If you’re interested in art exhibits that relate to the mental health field, I would suggest checking out MODA’s latest mini issue, where I write about Roger Ballen’s Photography exhibit at the Chazen and introduce folks to his work.


      Madelyn Sundquist

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