Alibi V.16 No.23 • June 7-13, 2007 

Culture Shock

“The Human-to-Oil Press” by Jess Dunn
“The Human-to-Oil Press” by Jess Dunn

Body of Work—Jess Dunn started making environmental art as an undergraduate at the University of California in Santa Cruz. The Las Vegas native didn't feel truly pressed to follow this line of creativity, though, until she moved back to the desert and entered the graduate art program at UNM.

“I did the land arts program here,” Dunn says. “It's basically field study. You live and work outdoors for several months. As part of that program, we visited Otero Mesa, where they've been talking about drilling for oil and gas, and I started thinking about ways in which humans are part of the natural cycle.”

This led to her thought-provoking MFA thesis exhibit, which opens this Friday, June 8, with a reception from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Harwood Art Center (1114 Seventh Street NW). The Human-to-Oil Project is a darkly humorous sculptural show that examines the possibility of transforming deceased people into fuel. The exhibit even includes a “press” on which dead bodies can be set to be squeezed for their oily resources.

It's a weird, darkly funny concept. “I don't want to be didactic with my work,” says Dunn. “I wanted to include elements of humor in this because I realize that you don't need to take everything so seriously even when you're addressing a serious topic.”

Dunn will deliver a lecture on her work on Thursday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 27. For details, call 242-6367.