The Hunt

“To create a haunting mock-up of the temporal world … Outlaw wrapped worn bed sheets soaked with acrylic resin around student volunteers and created 14 ghostly body forms that lie on the gallery floor or hang from [the Art Museum of Memphis’] ceiling like vigilante lynching’s, carcasses in a meat locker, or giant pupae struggling to free themselves from cocoons. The rusty barrel hoops cradling several of the muslin shrouds bring to mind nature’s cycles of life/death/decay/life. Near the ceiling, a cocoon Outlaw cast from silken, translucent material shimmers like a chrysalis Shroud of Turin carrying the hope of new life.”  —  Excerpt from Carol Knowles review, Gimme Shelter: Wangechi Mutu and Adrienne Outlaw seek solace in an uncertain world for The Memphis Flyer, Dec. 21, 2006

“The Hunt, one of Outlaw’s first collaborative ventures, involved 26 volunteers who cheerfully—for the most part—waited several hours as an encircling bed sheet soaked in a glue-like substance dried around them. Abandoned once their inhabitants emerged, these “cocoons” of stiffened cloth bear the memory of the person they enclosed …. In the spacious, dimly lit gallery, these empty forms project an eerie, near mystical presence.  Suspended by barely visible monofilament, some swing almost imperceptibly on unnoticed drafts of air; others stretch out on the hardwood floor. A few rest on rusted metal hoops a few feet above the ground. Among the reiterated “body bags,” one image is distinctive, Chrysalis. Made from golden, translucent silk, a strapless gown bears the impress of voluptuous breasts and hips, those of its vanished wearer.”  —  Excerpt from Dorothy Joiner’s article, Adrienne Outlaw: The Bread of Industry for World Sculpture News, Vol. 16, Fall, 2010

“The ongoing project known as The Hunt manifests itself as an installation that changes with each exhibition. This version includes fiber-cast hanging bodily forms of silk gauze and bed sheets, featuring visible stitching, rusty metal hoops, and traces of hair, that exist as cocoon-like remnants of the models used to create them, reflecting their physical and psychological states during the casting. Some are gently fluid, indicating that perhaps the model slept peacefully while the cast slowly stiffened, while others are twisted and tense, suggesting a more troubled encounter between model and process. The visibly pregnant figures bring to culmination the themes of growth, regeneration and infinite possibility while others appear as detritus or carcasses, vessels long ago emptied of their life force.”  —  Excerpt from Wendy Koenig’s essay, Being Many Together, for Adrienne Outlaw: Seek Shelter Exhibition Catalog, The Art Museum of the University of Memphis, 2007

“The Hunt, fifteen spectral human exoskeletons, hover aloft or rest uncomfortably on the floor in the darkened room. The act of looking and walking among them feels remarkably like strolling in a cemetery at twilight.”  —  Excerpt from Leslie Luebbers’ Forward Essay for Adrienne Outlaw: Seek Shelter Exhibition Catalog, The Art Museum of the University of Memphis, 2007

“It is the pieces suspended from the ceiling that captures the eye and the imagination, because these are the ones that seem to be the most vital, still possessed of an animating force, about to writhe loose of their bonds.”  —  Excerpt from Joe Nolan’s review of Seek Shelter for Number: an independent arts journal, p. 18, Vol. XXI, No. 1, Spring, 2007

“One is reminded of the Greek technique of rhythmos, whereby the artist depicts a moment of pause between successive actions, forcing the observer to complete the movement in his mind. So, too, does Outlaw encourage viewers to reflect not only on the pain of change but also on its glorious outcome. Wisely she leaves the beauty to our imagination.”   —  Excerpt from Dorothy Joiner’s review of The Hunt for Art Papers Magazine, p. 38, July/August, 2003


In 1998 I began working with volunteer participants to make The Hunt. This was part of what led me down the social practice path, although I didn’t know the term then. People would agree to show up in very tight-fitting clothes, be wrapped in hot sticky fabric and hold a pose for up to three hours. It was during these sessions that I started to realize that if I could get people together and they had the time and space that they enjoyed a shared experience and start a relationship. The Hunt was first shown at the University of the South, Sewanee. It travelled to the Nashville Public Library Main Visual Arts Gallery and to the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, which produced a catalog.