It wasn’t much of a stretch for Candy Coated to create a show that would appeal to kids and adults equally. The Philly-based artist (formerly known as Candy Depew) regularly pedals her mobile, bike-mounted studios to schools and communities to teach people the basics of silk-screening, encouraging people to get hands-on with art and to indulge their most playful whims.
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“I see the kid in everybody, actually,” Candy said recently during a walkthrough of her new installation, “Candy Coated Wonderland,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The show is part of the museum’s summerlong Art Splash program, which brings together five family-friendly exhibitions as well as a number of interactive activities and programs in the Perelman Building.
It’s not hard to see the kid in Candy Coated. From the sweet-toothed name to her bright red shock of cotton candy hair to her pixie-like lilt, the artist embodies the very whimsy that she brings to her work. Her vision for her work is, if anything, willfully naïve, though; she can effortlessly swerve from giggling over a banner printed with cat pictures to citing the influence of early 20th-century Italian futurist Giacomo Balla.
“Candy Coated Wonderland” uses selections from the museum’s collection of children’s fancy dress costumes as a jumping-off point for a room-size installation. Candy seized on details from the outfits, which include a Peter Pan costume, a harlequin dress and a painter’s smock, to enlarge and print as patterns or sculptural elements. The art spills onto the walls and floor, reflected in a fun house mirror, as costume-clad mannequins play out miniature storybook narratives.
“When I see people working on their art they go away and they have a little bliss moment,” Candy said. “So with these magical stories I’m trying to merge art-making and that kind of bliss. Even though it’s wild and busy, it’s still very calming.”
The centerpiece of Art Splash is an exhibition of work by Philadelphia-born children’s book illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who won the Caldecott Medal in 2010 for his picture book “The Lion and the Mouse.” In addition, “Family Portrait” gathers a diverse range of photographers’ images of family life; “Design for the Modern Child” displays contemporary design for children; and “All Dressed Up” compares adult and children’s garments.
Through Sept. 2
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2525 Pennsylvania Ave.