Dominoes, rubber ducks, toy trucks, children’s play blocks, wooden nickels, billiards balls, and hundreds of Scrabble pieces. These are among the many vintage objects, toys, and board game pieces Boston-based artist Peter Thibeault has collected over the years and used to design intricate art pieces that take various forms—from sculptures to collages.
“Pop culture is one of my go-to places for inspiration,” says Thibeault, adjunct professor in the College of Arts, Media and Design.
Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
An impressive selection of his work—of which geometric shapes and color schemes are common traits—are display at Gallery 360, in a show titled “Poke Fun Play Fare.” The show runs until mid-October; an opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Thibeault brings his many talents and interests—furniture builder, former comic book publisher, frequent flea market visitor—to his work, and he describes the show as a retrospective. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a one-person show,” he says.”
The centerpiece of the exhibit, which Thibeault created this year specifically for the Gallery 360 show, is game wheel that you might see and think you’ve wandered into a carnival. He used 790 poker chips as well as dice, images from vintage comic books, and other pieces to create the elaborate wheel, titled, “Wheel of Misfortune – A Kenophobic View,” the latter part of the title referring to the fear of open or empty spaces. “I wanted a hybrid of all the work I do: assemblage, drawing, collages, and sculpture,” Thibeault says of the wheel.
The show also features two 10-foot-high towers covered top to bottom in hundreds of Scrabble pieces. Thibeault estimates he has some 50,000 to 60,000 Scrabble pieces in his studio, which he received when he was doing some work for Hasbro years ago. Many of his pieces include callbacks to art history, and some of the titles of his work incorporate playful puns, such as “Cubie Doobie Doo” (a cube sculpture) and “Milk Made” (a piece that features milk bottle covers dating back to the 1950s.
Visitors can also discover other hidden gems sprinkled throughout the show, such as a piece that includes 99 $1 bills and another featuring a 3-D printed model of Thibeault at about one-eighteenth in scale.
Thibeault hopes visitors enjoy the show, puns, art history references, and all. But he’s hesitant to say what he thinks they should take away from the exhibit.
“One of the things I teach my students is that when they go to a museum, dissect when you hear and see,” he says. “The trend today is for visitors to read the wall text about a piece, but I push my students to figure out for themselves what they think the art is saying.”