Over the past decade, Chicago-based artist Tony Tasset has been making surreal sculptures that draw imagery from American popular culture. His smashed pumpkins recall a well-known Chicago band, a forced fall family trip to the pumpkin patch, or the teenage boredom that would drive a kid to toss hapless fruit into the street. Tasset’s different versions of melting snowman similarly recall the letdown after a snowfall, when our scary snowmen turn into haggard, haunted mounds of snow. Like Pop artist Andy Warhol before him, Tasset looks for images or ideas that are simple and easily understood, allowing the visitor to bring their own set of meanings to each work.
In his totemic Mood Sculpture, Tasset draws from the cheerful smiley faces invented in 1963—the original American emoji—and shows the rainbow range of moods that afflict our days, from the sour grape face at the bottom to the Sunny Delight yellow face on top. His cheery, childlike colors remind us of how radical new ideas of the 1960s have today been packaged into consumer products.