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Dead or Alive

Landscape I and III by Levi van Velew

The words “organic art” may induce cringing. A new catch phrase, you dare ask? No, just a convenient way to talk about the latest exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design, “Dead or Alive,” which showcases over 30 artists whose work is made from once living objects or materials like insects, feathers, bones, silkworm cocoons, plants and hair. The exhibition is a companion piece, of sorts, to one of MAD’s previous shows “Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary,” which featured work made from ordinary, manufactured objects like a metal jacket made from army dog tags or a giant wave of vinyl records.

Artists include Alastair Mackie, Nick Cave, Damien Hirst and (personal fave) Tim Hawkinson as well as specially commissioned work like the thousands of dead insects arranged to mimic vintage wallpaper from Jennifer Angus, imaginary animal skeletons made from pulverized bones by Shen Shaomin and the fragile, suspended nests of thistle and dandelion silk by Christiane Lohr.

“Dead or Alive” at MAD runs through October 24, 2010.