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Think onion: It's all about the layers

Matt Robles/A rizona Daily Wildcat
Chris Dacre, fine arts graduate student, brings new life to the world of packrateering. His exhibit will be on display at The Shane House Gallery, 218 Fourth Ave., from 6 to 9 p.m.
By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 25, 2005
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Torn out notebook paper is strung upon crisscrossed lines of twine like clothes hung out to dry. Cutouts from children's books from the '60s are juxtaposed next to blocks of bold color, and from all angles my eyes are confronted with a series of these gestalt images. I finally settle on a cutout of baby pasted next to a woman in a '50s housedress vacuuming the child's diaper.

"All these collage elements were in my studio and they just fit together and it just worked, it felt right," fine arts graduate student Chris Dacre said.

And that's just what Dacre wants. His upcoming art exhibition titled "Observations and Intereactions" dares the viewer to take a more proactive approach to viewing art, hence his hanging series and bizarre image combinations.

"I want people to see where I'm coming from but if they don't see that it's fine as well," Dacre said. "I want people to enjoy my work. I want people to be involved in it, that's why I hang it. People have to work to see it."

Dacre is a slight looking man. His short bristly black hair sprinkled with gray covers a look that would make him resemble a mountain man if he weren't so neat. His arms are inked with an intimidating snake on his inner left wrist but tempered with cartoonish images of a fairy, little boy, lion and elephant holding hands located on his right bicep. He cannot come up with a good reason for getting any of these.

This same impulsive spirit figures largely into Dacre's work. Coming up with an end product isn't as important to him as letting his creativity and imagination take over.

In his work Dacre uses found objects, recycles throwaways or investigates the local thrift store for material in his pieces. Citing America's distinction as being a throwaway culture he sees trash as always having some sort of value that he can use later on in life, though he claims not to be pack rat.

And just like his work Dacre's own life has been just as spontaneous and surprising.

At the age of 17, Dacre left Ohio and joined the Air Force, in his words, to find himself and also because he didn't know any better. His military service sent him to Germany for a time and then into the reserves in Florida. After almost a decade of service Dacre decided that it was the artist's life for him and enrolled at the University of Alabama-Birmingham to earn a bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Even within the freer atmosphere of the creative world Dacre still rails against its structure.

"One of the problems that I have with art history is that somebody is telling you what this piece is about," Dacre said. "Whether that's what the artist intended or not that's not what the viewer is going to see if they don't have that art history book to read."

"There is a message definitely in my work. If you don't want to take the time to look at it you might not see what I'm trying to say, you might get something else from it. Whatever you get you get," Dacre said.

The opening reception to Chris Dacre's "Observations and Intereactions" is at the Shane House Gallery at 218 S. Fourth Ave. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow. The exhibit is then available for viewing the following week by appointment only. Dacre can be contacted at

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