Chicago

Mary Lou Zelazny

Peter Miller Gallery

There’s a nursery rhyme concerned with transubstantiation, suggesting that little boys are made of “snips and snails and puppydog tails” while “sugar and spice and everything nice” are the stuff of little girls. The 14 collage-paintings by Mary Lou Zelazny shown here, all from 1987, feature not-so-little girls made of dozens of printed images scavenged from the pages of magazines and catalogues and then combined within a painted composition. Each of these weirdly sensible figures is a densely overlaid composite of snippets from schematic diagrams, telephone directory pages, package labels, and a diverse array of advertisements, posed against an intentionally vulgar backdrop such as an urban night scene or a romantic sunset.

Zelazny’s work resembles, at least superficially, the inventions of Arcimboldo. Unlike her 16th-century predecessor, however, Zelazny finds her effects instead of making

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