New Art Exhibit "Two Boys and the Love Doll" deals with the loneliness of modern life

What appears to be a woman in the traditional outfit of a Japanese geisha is actually a lifeless doll with vacant eyes. This unsettling image is one of many at a new exhibit in Sarah Moody Gallery.

“Two Boys and the Love Doll” is a collection of large-scale photographs of life-sized manikins placed in various ordinary situations. The exhibit is by artist Laurie Simmons.

“This is not one show, it’s actually two in one,” said Vicki Rial, exhibitions coordinator for the gallery. “‘Two Boys’ is one idea and ‘The Love Doll’ is another idea. But they’re very close in relation to each other because of the fact that both of them occur in an isolated environment.”

The “Two Boys” series of photos focuses on two hooded, open-mouthed CPR dummies, who are using glowing laptops in solitude. The other set of images are of Japanese love dolls doing ordinary domestic activities. To Rial, the exhibit as a whole is primarily about loneliness.

“In both cases, it relates to isolation that can happen when you are on the internet for an extended period of time with no human contact,” she said.

The photographs in “Two Boys and the Love Doll” are all massive, some as large as seventy inches tall. This size, combined with the exhibit’s unusual subject matter, might elicit strong reactions from some viewers.

“It’s definitely uncomfortable the first time you walk into it, because at first you don’t know what you’re looking at,” Rial said. “It’s hard to tell the difference between a doll and a human until you look at it for a few minutes.”

However, the gallery coordinator also said that “Two Boys and the Love Doll” could be appreciated solely for the beauty of it’s photography.

Laurie Simmons is a renowned artist who has been working since the 1970s. She is considered a part of the “Picture Generation,” a group of artists who were among the first to deal with the mass media and advertising in their work.

To create the exhibit, Simmons made her own home into a studio, photographing her lifelike subjects in the spaces most familiar to her.

The exhibit caught freshman computer science major Kyle Johnson off guard at first, but he said he received a larger message from the work.

“It kind of plays into the idea that people nowadays are dolls, doing what everyone else is doing,” he said.

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