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The museum's second floor features recent sculptures and drawings by David Opdyke including his dramatic installation, Mixed Messages. First installed at the Corcoran Museum of Art in 2004, the installation has been reworked by Opdyke to take full advantage of the University Art Museum's thirty-five foot ceiling. The installation is comprised of two fleets of paper airplanes-over 2,000 in all. Each airplane is folded from a page of a bilingual dictionary; about half are from the Arabic-English side, the other half are from the English-Arabic.  Suspended from the ceiling in two grids, the planes appear randomly configured, but upon closer scrutiny they begin to form words that converge from opposite sides of the museum. Although there is no single point from which all the words can be read simultaneously, phrases from opposing perspectives emerge: “ROGUE STATE”, “SLEEPER CELLS”, WAR ON TERRORISM”, “OIL CORPORATION COALITION”, “ILLEGAL OCCUPATION”, and so on.

Opdyke's work continually probes the contradictory impulses that drive contemporary culture, but his sardonic reflections on the complexities of globalization, rampant consumerism, and military escalation are underscored by his obsessive approach to materials, most of which are culled from childhood craft projects.

Also on view are recent drawings and two new free-standing sculptures. Each is rendered with an unflinching precision that bears the hallmarks of this former architectural model-maker’s penchant for increasing the potency of miniatures through multiplication. In Odyke’s own words, “My goal is to present scenarios whose formal integrity makes them believable and whose bullheaded complexity reveals the grandiose absurdities and ambiguities that lie below the surface.”

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