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"workworkworkworkwork" at the Whitney

Charles LeDray's incredible miniatures hold big interest for kids.

  • Catcher's Vest by Charles Ledray

  • Charley/Chas by Charles Ledray, 1999--2002

  • Come Together by Charles LeDray, 1995-1996

  • Cricket Cage by Charles Ledray

  • Party Bed art piece by Charles Ledray

  • Toy Chest by Charles LeDray, 2005-2006

Catcher's Vest by Charles Ledray

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"Workworkworkworkwork," a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, features intricate child- and dollhouse-sized replicas of everyday objects crafted by New York artist Charles LeDray. A parent may feel like a giant standing next to one of the artist's tiny suit jackets; but for young observers, says Whitney curator Carter Foster, the scale is just right. The following pieces are sure to wow your brood.

Catcher's Vest
Just 15 inches tall, this mask and vest will appeal to Little Leaguers, but the piece is, in fact, a commentary on gender. "LeDray's work is tied to ideas of masculinity—especially here, because it's very much a male uniform," says Foster. Your softball-playing daughter may disagree.

Charley/Chas
Youngsters are masters of self-expression through clothing: Try telling a child that she can't wear her favorite costume to school, and you'll see just how much her wardrobe means to her. Similarly, this piece—a jacket labeled with LeDray's name, attached to a tool belt and work pants—is an articulation of the artist's sense of self. The name tag identifies him, and the tools represent his job as an artist.

Come Together
Kids will be drawn to the whimsical patches—such as a peace sign, hearts, lips and flowers—affixed to this adult denim jacket. The smaller shirts above it are figurine-sized, and will have tykes jonesing to play dress-up with their personal menageries of animals and baby dolls.

Cricket Cage
Measuring just four inches tall, the tiny enclosure is carved from human bone, a somewhat sinister commentary on confining animals. It may give youngsters new perspective on whether they should be trapping creepy-crawlies in mason jars.

Party Bed
Inhabitants of messy rooms will relate to this piece: a small bed topped by a pile of tiny clothing, including jackets and a bright blue backpack. Be sure your offspring peeks underneath the bed—she'll find minute items there, too.

Toy Chest
A stuffed corduroy kangaroo and what appears to be a felt Snoopy doll fill an itty-bitty box. Children will marvel at the scaled-down playthings, while parents will appreciate the craftsmanship: LeDray, whose mother taught him to sew, constructed each piece by hand.

"Workworkworkworkwork" is on view from Nov 18 to Feb 13, 2011, at the Whitney Museum of American Art.




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