The ephemeral beauty of a mushroom cloud is frightening; it floats, delicate and blooming, but chaotic and utterly destructive. It is this conflicted experience—a contradiction between what our eyes enjoy and what our mind knows—that Dietrich Wegner’s work evokes in the viewer, with intersections of beauty and repulsion, comfort and fear, fantasy and objective reality. These paradoxical feelings create a multilayered understanding, turning our perception of reality upside down.
Wegner often chooses materials that contradict one aspect of an image while simultaneously lending it a comforting realism. A mushroom cloud is fluffy like cotton, and Wegner’s synthetic cotton mushroom cloud becomes fun and cozy. A blood splat sculpture is shiny and exciting, but suggests all the terrors we associate with spilled blood. The cotton (actually Poly-fil) playhouse and urethane blood splat are examples of materials that reflect what an image looks like but contradict what a subject feels like or “means.” In Wegner’s work, a mushroom cloud can resemble a tree house, an anus a vortex, a suicide bomber a vulnerable human being. His babies are covered in multicolored logo tattoos. These works explore our notions of contentment and security, and provoke us to consider how our identities evolve and how we declare them.
Dietrich Wegner was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1978 to parents who worked for an organization doing global social work similar to the Peace Corps. His parents’ work brought his family to Egypt and then Houston, Texas. He now resides in northwestern Pennsylvania where he holds a studio and teaches at Edinboro University.
Ohio State University
MFA in Sculpture
Maryland Institute, College of Art
BFA in Sculpture
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- AAP 97th Annual Exhibition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.
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