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Sep 22, 2016. - Jan 15, 2017.

Wendy Maruyama

The wildLIFE Project

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These blown glass tusks go to the heart of an exhibition that cries out in protest over illegal poaching. Crafted with assistance by Nancy Callan and Dan Friday during a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School, the tusks are contained in Wendy Maruyama's work Sarcophagus. Click here to see the entire work, and click the detail image above to enlarge. Photos by Scott Cartwright.

This captivating installation looks at the plight of two great animals of Africa, the elephant and the rhinoceros, and the carnage left behind by poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

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Wendy Maruyama, Satao, 2015. Wood, burlap, paint, string. Photo by Scott Cartwright.

This nearly life-sized work is on view under the high ceilings of our Modern and Contemporary Art Wing, in Gallery 223. The exhibition can be found in our first-floor Glass Projects Space.

Most known as an art-furniture maker, this retired professor at San Diego State University is a master craftswoman who branched out into different materials for this powerful work.

This multi-sensory environment includes elephants immortalized in works eight-to-12 feet high, and a Buddhist-style shrine offers incense and a bell that rings every 15 minutes to honor the animals lost to a $10 billion yearly industry.

There's also a cenotaph, an empty tomb erected in honor of those whose remains are elsewhere, that features a video memorial to these wonders of the natural world.

Maruyama's work combines art, advocacy, and education. These pieces command our attention and beg a question: What can we do to make this stop? Satao, one of the oldest and largest Kenyan elephants and the namesake for the artwork shown at right, was killed by poachers before Maruyama could finish the project.

Wendy Maruyama: The wildLIFE Project is organized by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and is curated by Elizabeth Kozlowski. The exhibition is made possible by generous support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

• For an impartial look at the issue, here is a CNN report on the massive scale of the illegal trade and the scope of the slaughter.

• Here's a beautiful video on the artist and her work that was produced by John Thornton for The Center for Art in Wood.

• For more information, here is the official press release, and here is an article in HyperAllergic.

This exhibition will be on view Sept. 22, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017. Admission is free.

Wendy Maruyama
Bell Shrine
Wood, bronze, ink.
Photo by David Harrison

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