Empire Falls detailEmpire Falls

Nancy Baker

1000 Smart Monkey Toys ImagiBRICKS

"Nancy Baker has mounted a compellingly complementary array of mixed media gouache paintings in the show bolstered by a large installation piece in which she’s created her own straw man so to speak. But this time rather than straw he’s made of cardboard (literally a cardboard set of multi-colored construction bricks) and stacked in a gallery corner like oversized fake Legos. The enterprise is meant to engender the sense of fragility our economy is in the throes of right now and the piece does indeed feel like it might blow over at any moment- much like the mortgage crisis itself. ...it starts to feel like the strength of our entire economic system is all fake and might fly out the door at any moment."
Dave Delacambre
Raleigh, North Carolina

Empire Falls at Flanders GalleryI contacted Jason Wardour several months ago about the possibility of Smart Monkey Toys donating 1000 Imagiplay blocks for an art installation I wanted to create at Flanders Gallery. I had done a similar projects at Meredith College using 400 blocks a few years ago. After the exhibition ended at Meredith College, the art department donated the blocks to area children's hospitals, and non-profit day care centers. For the project at Flanders Gallery, all the blocks went to Marble Children's Museum. The staff distributed surplus of blocks to Triangle area non-profit children's facilities.

This project was really wonderful on many levels. The generosity of Smart Monkey Toys allowed me to continue with an idea that transforms simple children's toys into a metaphor of sound material use and reclamation. I believe that we are part of a system in which everything we do has a consequence, and especially so in matters of ecology. There is a long sequence of cause and effect, politically, economically, spiritually, financially. I sought to create a structure that would be reborn and reimagined, not thrown away and forgotten. It is thrilling for me to know that this project continues on, making a lot of children happy. The material itself is noteworthy. I played with these bricks as a child, and the philosophical idea of cardboard bricks that can be endlessly reconfigured, is for me, paramount to the development of abstract, intuitive thought. What child does not benefit from the experience of creating castles, forts, and towers? It is in those moments of play that we experience great leaps of creativity and mastery of our childhood desires. I don't think that happens with video games. Empire Falls wide

I played with these blocks as a child. I cannot really think of any other toy that had such a great and profound impact. When I saw these bricks on line several years ago, I was really quite a nostalgic moment. And all the adults that saw this structure at Flanders Gallery, were reminded of those moments of truly creative "real time" play. There were a lot of happy grown up kids! http://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org/