A Body of Quirk

the unconventional style, flair of Paula Gorski’s art

Caitlin Heidbrink, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Think about those free-association mind exercises, where someone yells out a word and you’re immediately forced to exert a response; any word that the subconscious relates to what you just heard. Now, imagine doing this with art. The words of your dreams and images related to past experiences in far-away places, transformed into a twisted, fabric-wrapped sculpture or a crazy image. This may give you an idea of how artist Paula Gorski operates.

Her exhibition at the L.E Phillips Public Library is a “full circle” collaboration, as she describes it. Running from Dec. 4 until Jan. 6, her life’s work, the collective inspiration of growing up in Milwaukee, attending UW-Eau Claire, and living in Bolivia, are displayed for the visual consumption of the community.

Narrative paintings, wrapped sculpture, and clever combinations of text and image all speak to the humor and playfulness that Gorski hopes to express. Specifically, her wrapped sculpture originates from her grandmother’s award-winning rag rugs.

“It’s interesting to think of myself as carrying on a tradition because I’m not a very traditional artist,” Gorski said of an influence she considers unconscious.

Abstract and quirky text joins imagery as another one of Gorski’s favorite media. Using t-shirts, game boards, and anything she could dream up, Gorski releases words from her mind no matter how random. Phrases like, “learn to swim in the Pacific,” are meant to be playful and fun for the viewer.

“I get a kick out of my work,” she said, “and I hope people do, too.”