Artist performs political satire

By Joelle McGinnis

Artist Pat Oleszko will create “War ‘N Piece: Where Fools Russian” at the Egyptian Theatre for her audience Wednesday at 8 p.m.

The 50-minute mixed-media performance using live costume- sculpture presents a political satire confronting nuclear armamentation and its repercussions on a global and individual basis.

Using puns, characterizations, films and costumed performance, Oleszko says it is intended as a “humorous critique … a vile medicine show that informs the unafraid, unfolds the inferred and infirms the uninformed” of the nuclear age.

The New York artist, titled “the burlesque queen of the absurd” by Esquire magazine, has worked a range of performances from part of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics’ U.S. cultural performance as comic relief to her annual walk in the New York Easter Parade.

Oleszko’s artistic statements focus on the absurdities of political issues as she uses her performances to confront issues others find difficult to face.

Travel and politics are not unusual inspirations for Oleszko, who has continuously toured the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan in the past years.

“War ‘N Piece” was inspired by a trip to Berlin three years ago on a German arts grant. Through her grant Oleszko acquired freedom to go and do whatever she wanted.

After returning, she was left with a powerful impression between what she saw as ignorance and insanity developing in the world through foreign policy and a desire to express her convictions to an audience.

Oleszko began as a sculptor to express her ideas but could not keep her sculptures standing. To solve her problem she started costuming herself by wearing the sculptures.

She also has costumed trees, rocks, fountains and elephants for her performances.

Oleszko has made 26 short films, been the subject of articles in Oui, Penthouse, Esquire, Artforum and Sesame Street magazines and also was the cover girl for Ms. magazine as the Statue of Liberty.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1970 and received the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Art Matters Inc. Award in 1985, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Berlin award in 1984 and the New York State Council of the Arts Grant in 1980.

Oleszko’s appearance in DeKalb is supported partially by a grant from ARTS INC., promoting the arts in northern Illinois and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Funding for the performance also is provided by the NIU School of Art and the Student Association.

The performance is open to the public for a $2 admission fee.