MCA Explores a Higher Plane with Paul Heyer The MCA's small-but-mighty exhibit explores pop culture, queer life, transformation, and the sublime.

Heyer (born 1982) is a Chicago native and multimedia artist with an MFA from Columbia University whose work examines club life and pop culture through a queer lens. I had to think for a while before I could find the club life, pop culture, or queer references in Heyer’s work—which is to say, the man is no Warhol, and does not paint polemics. But with the helpful guide of the MCA pamphlet, I could parse more. In one work, cursive text (“I am the sky”) on a Taylor Swift–esque cloud background asks us to imagine ourselves as the impossible. Becoming something else is a theme of Heyer’s: He doesn’t paint people but skeletons, saying that he finds them more approachable. Black-stained brooms become a model of the universe. A giant silver comforter is the centerpiece of the exhibit: It asks us to wonder about comfort becoming metal, science fiction becoming comfort, and dreams becoming…something else.

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