Lea Whittington made sensuous wall sculptures and assemblages that had their origins in the world of high European traditions of architecture, furniture, costume and design. She took the elements of ornamentation, decoration, and fashion out of their usual context and created new objects that were at once formally beautiful and wonderfully playful.
In the installation at Women & Their Work gallery, Whittington used thick, sumptuous fabrics, velvets, silks, satins, flocking, rope and tassels in icy baby blues, creamy yellows and pastel roses. She extracted them from their original ornamental context of the decorative arts and re-presented them in a minimal way, forcing the viewer to reckon with the social codes embedded in the color, texture, and economic value of the material. Her lavish constructions simultaneously appeared as large shaped minimalist canvases and misplaced window treatments. Whittington’s wall structures challenged viewers to contemplate the nature of frivolity, luxury, and sentimentality.
Her work brought into question ideas about art, decoration, and the value that society places on a work in relationship to its utilitarian aspects. In her own words, the artist said, “I think about the ideals of success, luxury and value that have permeated culture and ultimately my experience of it. These are concepts we face everyday but may not realize how they affect our lives. As an artist, it is not that I personally desire the excessive, but for me objects and materials that are excessive are very seductive.”