The style of multidisciplinary artist Tristin Lowe can be difficult to define, but he says “absurd” and “surreal” are two words that could describe most of his work.
Whether it’s Frosty the Snowman made of copper pipes and plastic jugs, a giant three-dimensional comet made of neon tubes or a half-old car hanging from the ceiling of a gallery, he always does something unexpected.
Starting Saturday January 22nd, the Moore College of Art and Design will display a range of sculptures and other art projects accumulated during Lowe’s decades-long career The galleries in Moore, at the 1916 St.
The exhibition “Black Holes and Rabbit Holes” takes up influences from space, fairy tales and the surrealist movement.
Although many of the pieces have been shown in other exhibitions over the years, Lowe looks forward to giving them a new perspective by placing them in the various rooms available to him in Moore. His work will occupy the entire gallery until March 19th.
One track that will be there is “Frosty”. The deconstructed snowman’s head is made of insulated copper tubing and his body is made up of three empty plastic tubs. He carries a Pork pie hat and has a cigar in its month, but perhaps the most interesting element of the sculpture is the large freezer behind the snowman, to which it is connected with a thick tangle of wires and strings.
“I take it as a metaphor for what you’re trying to do with art,” said Lowe, a Philadelphia resident, of the original Frosty the Snowman story, in which a group of children imagined its existence. “You rub a few sticks together and hope that it will trigger some kind of transformation and breath some life into it.”
Another highlight that Lowe picked out is his piece “Comet”. He has made several versions of the sculpture over the years, mostly from glass pipes filled with neon, but the one that will be seen in Moore is particularly tall at 4 feet in length. There will also be a 13 foot wide felt moon on display.
Lowe has a penchant for sculpting disembodied legs in blue jeans. Some are realistic and proportional, but others are super long and squiggly, extra large, or fused together in weird ways.
He has also created sculptures that resemble halved objects that float through walls or ceilings and seemingly merge into otherworldly realms.
Lowe halved an old car, a 2001 Volkswagen Passat Wagon, in which he had a near-death experience while driving in November 2015. The piece is entitled “Transmutation: Into the Wind”. Passat means “trade wind” in German.
The artist had returned from a work trip to North Carolina, where he was preparing for an exhibition. He was on Route 113 near Dover, Delaware, around 9 p.m. when a woman driving in the wrong direction crashed into the passenger side of Lowe’s VW with her lights off.
He survived the crash without major injuries and was discharged from the hospital a few hours later, but the traumatic experience shook Lowe to the core. He felt so connected to the car that he actually bought it back from the insurance company to take home.
“I had this strange relationship with the car,” he said. “I felt like it saved my life.”
He spent hours getting the car into his studio piece by piece through the 30-inch door, then crawling around the vehicle and cutting it up to familiarize himself with every facet of the remains of the old Volkswagen.
By January 2016, he had reassembled the rear half of the vehicle and installed it on the ceiling of Temple University’s art gallery, where it stayed for about two weeks. On January 22nd, the vehicle that Lowe may have rescued will be suspended from the ceiling of the galleries in Moore.
The gallery is holding an opening reception for the exhibition on Friday, January 21st, from 5pm to 7pm.
Black holes and rabbit holes
January 21st to March 19th
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Closed on sundays
The galleries in Moore
Philadelphia, PA 19103