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Ed Roth: "Dolly Was Cloned From A Mammary Gland"

The artist and stencil designer questions originality and conformity in a new solo show

by Lauren Espeseth in Culture on 07 August 2013

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Brooklyn-based artist and designer Ed Roth, the creative mind behind Stencil1, is showcasing his free-hand talents with a gallery exhibition at Seattle's Twilight Gallery and Boutique. Opening 8 August 2013, the series is called "Dolly Was Cloned From A Mammary Gland (I Will aAlways Love You)" and is centered around Dolly the cloned sheep, and the song "I Will Always Love You" by her namesake Dolly Parton. For Roth, the overlapping themes shed light on the haunting nature of cloning and Parton's poignant lyrics. He explores the desire for immortal life and everlasting love by diagramming Dolly the sheep's story.

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The series manifests his street art approach in a fine art setting, but Roth prefers not to think of it that way. "I think art is art, personally, and love the debate about street art making its way onto gallery walls." Known for his hand-drawn, trademark stencils, Roth makes full use of their generative qualities to fully embody Dolly's cloned nature. When explaining the process and the product for the gallery showroom, Roth says, "This work uses images of the cloned sheep to mirror the ways in which we follow, using vintage tarps and left-over paint, from icon to icon, old materials and new, long outdated rules of conformity and well worn clichés."

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Roth finds the whole idea of cloning as fascinating as it is horrifying. He explains, "All progress seems to have great benefits and great pitfalls...I like exploring this need." But despite the controversy surrounding cloning, Roth says, "Dolly the sheep was named after Dolly Parton, as Dolly the sheep was cloned from a mammary gland, so there is some humor in this work."

Roth hopes the stencil-based art opens conversation on conformity and the desire to belong, and on duplication and the authenticity of the original. But on top of the heavy-handed topics of homogeneity and social compliance—to come full circle—Roth says, "I hope they realize I am drawn to cloning as I clone images with stencils myself. But the duplicate images are often fucked up, not right, not like the original." Lastly, he hopes gallery visitors will each take a custom stencil from the show to help him clone Dolly everywhere they go.

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"Dolly Was Cloned From A Mammary Gland (I Will Always Love You)" opens tomorrow, 8 August 2013 at the Twilight Gallery and Boutique in Seattle. The artwork is available through the gallery's online shop. Roth's stencils and more are available through Stencil1.

Images courtesy of Ed Roth

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