There’s a quiet rebellion going on in the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery, sparked by local artist Ambrosia White. She wears black lipstick, smokes cinnamon sticks and wants to, as she said, “wake the proletariat up.”
She plans to do so through her delicate, intimate sculptures comprised of everyday objects that “will push the viewer to reflect on their position in society.” White said.
The Eide/Dalrymple Gallery is hosting several of her sculptures from April 3rd to the 21st.
Before entering the art exhibit, White says viewers must place barcode stickers on the center of their foreheads as reminders that we are all products of consumerism.
Ambrosia is a reclusive artist and to host her work, much less score an interview with her, is a rare treat.
“I feel sorry for people who say, ‘it’s just trash,’” White said. “It’s those people who have been brainwashed by the system. They just don’t understand the complex nuances of my work. You see, I like to be messy in my art, I like to throw rules out the window. Rules are just another system of control in our society.”
“Capitalism’s Grasp” features an intricately-folded, red paper crane perched atop a blue back scratcher stolen from Walmart as a way to retaliate against large corporations.
“We are all the bird,” White said, puffing on her cinnamon stick. “Society stifles our freedom and renders our wings motionless. We are cranes meant to fly, but instead, we are stuck scratching capitalism’s dirty back.”
White discovered her piece, “Orange-Julius Caesar,” while studying Shakespeare in high school.
“I was sitting around, thinking about Julius Caesar, and I thought, ‘We’re Brutus,’” White said. “We’re Earth’s Brutus.”
She quickly stabbed a bunch of straws in an orange she had on hand. The orange, she said, represents the Earth and the straws, our betrayal.
“We’ve stabbed Mother Earth in the back so many times,” White said. “We know she’s what’s good for us, but power, greed and primal ways led us astray.”
She also takes photos of garbage she finds around town, which represent our disposal economy. She says our economy reflects our inclination to labor. Work is disposable nowadays, she said.
White grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities. Her mother stayed at home and her father was a crucial lawyer from a large bank. She said she turned to art as a reaction against her parents.
“Everyone’s living the same lives,” she said. “We live, pay taxes, find someone to pork for and die. I didn’t want to live like that, so I bought a camera and started to assemble my sculptures.”
White has had some early success. She recently sold a piece called “Brain Washed” for $20,000. It is a rubber brain atop a used scrubbing sponge. It represents the public educational system, White said.
“They don’t want any radical thought in the public, so we stick all the kids in school and feed them garbage,” she said.
A local business executive trying to avoid taxes bought and donated the piece to a local children’s hospital. White said the executive was able to write it off on his taxes.
She has high hopes for her piece called “Toxic Masculinity,” a Pez dispenser wrapped in green Play-Doh, surrounded by two pistachio nuts. She thought of it while at a bar after seeing a muscular man flex his guns around a group of women.
“You could just see how much he hated himself,” White said. “Deep down, he was actually a slop of Play-Doh with two pistachio nuts attached, spewing out carcinogenic candy.”
The piece is priced at $3 million. Her goal, she said, is to get a small sum of money rolling to allow her to live conformably—apartment in New York, nightly dinners out on the town, high-fashion tattered clothes—while pursuing her art.
“I need this stable life to create my art and show the masses how they’re being controlled by the elite, the corporations and the capitalist dogma,” White said. “I want to become the Elijah of the proletariat movement. I hope everyone comes and looks into the mirror and sees the ugliness of it all.”