White Elephants Drift Through Boise Art Museum 

Saturday, Nov. 17

Dealing with the elephant in the room has never been this interesting before.

installation detail, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 2010

Dealing with the elephant in the room has never been this interesting before.

What would it feel like to stand next to an elephant—to reach out and compare its tremendous trunk or dangling ears to the size of a human hand? Even at the zoo, it's not every day that Boiseans get to be up close and personal with mega-fauna, but the Boise Art Museum's latest exhibition promises to do just that.

The exhibition, White Elephants, is a vision of how the enormous animals appear physically and kinetically. The life-size elephants are made from white rip-stop nylon to invoke their size and mass, and since they're made from lightweight material, they sway and shift gently as drafts pass through the museum's 80-foot Sculpture Court, simulating how elephants actually move in the wild.

The elephants are also configurable, and the amount of air supporting their inflatable frames determines whether they stand, sit or lie on the floor—whether their trunks sag between their puffed tusks or extend animatedly.

In some cultures elephants are sacred and, beyond the physical dimensions of her subject, artist Billie Grace Lynn chose to build the elephants from white material to imbue the herd with an ethereal, ghostly quality reflecting their spiritual significance in cultures from Africa to India.

BAM debuts the exhibition Saturday, Nov. 17. From then until May 17, 2013, visitors to the museum can stand beside and walk among this shifting herd of simulacra as they slowly navigate the exhibition room.

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