7/11/09 5:02 PM
What happens when you cross a cumulonimbus cloud with a pile of shit? Nothing good, you might think, but think again. Or think like Hank Waddell, who makes fabulous, blobby sculptures that do just that and more. Working with a substance called Hilti foam, which he sometimes casts in shiny stainless steel or covers in pearly auto paint, Waddell forms odd, bulbous shapes that have none of the transcendent qualities that abstract forms often maintain. If his creations have something atmospheric about them, they have far more earthly aspects, from the aforementioned scatological ones to the kind found in horror movies like The Blob. One work in particular brings this latter association to mind: “Rats Tale,” where the raw foam, shiny and gold, has engulfed a hapless rubber lizard in its bubbling wake. The poor creature is stuck, hilariously, in a way that most sculptors would shy away from, since it shatters the impression of solidity and power that infuses so much metal work. But not Hank Waddell, who seems to understand, at least in this body of work, that humor and softness turn base substances into gold—or at least, surprising art.