During a residency at the home of the late artist Roger Brown, Oli Watt was intrigued by the Chicago Imagist’s duck decoys. An avid collector, Brown cultivated numerous groups of objects and approached the items lining his shelves democratically, seeing all, no matter their cultural or monetary value, as of equal importance. Watt’s encounter with these quotidian trapping devices prompted a similarly impartial project with 101 Decoys, a series of sculptures that explores the relationship between form and function.
The Chicago-based artist, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute where Brown’s collections are housed, uses a range of found materials to construct his flock of waterfowl, from stacked Jenga blocks and pink, plush fabric to wine corks and a Bosch drill battery. Often structured around a wooden base, the final works vary in size and shape and are eclectic, lighthearted interpretations of hunting decoys. Departing from the object’s practical and historical uses, Watt describes his “useless” works as “an exercise in understanding, utilizing, and undermining repetition.”
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