Elmhurst Art Museum will present the Midwest premiere of BLOW UP: Inflatable Contemporary Art, an exploration of air as a sculptural medium. The exhibition, organized by California-based Bedford Gallery, investigates the imaginative ways that artists use air as a tool for creating large-scale sculpture and opens a dialogue about pop culture and social norms.

While inflatable objects are typically associated with advertising, children's entertainment or holiday decorations, the format has been appropriated by a diverse group of artists to explore complex subjects such as identity, materialism and war. Playing with scale, color and the inherent light-heartedness of balloons, the selected artists produce a wide variety of sculptural forms from Lewis deSoto's sleeping Buddha to Claire Ashley's colorful abstract shapes.  In addition to works by Ashley (Chicago) and deSoto (Napa), the traveling exhibition includes major works by Lee Boroson (New York), Patrick Flibotte (New York), Joshua Allen Harris (New York), Billie Grace Lynn (Miami), Guy Overfelt (San Francisco), Momoyo Torimitsu (Tokyo/New York) and Christo and Jean-Claude.

‚ÄčPresented alongside Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art, will also be the world premiere of Birth Death Breath, an opera "performed" by inflatable Christmas lawn decorations in various stages of inflation and deflation. Conceived, written and staged by Chicago artists Diane Christiansen and Jeanne Dunning, visitors will be invited to move amongst the various inflatable characters as they rise from the ground and begin to sing, seeming to come back to life. In a way that is simultaneously humorous and heartfelt, the installation explores timeless existential questions about the meaning of life and the incomprehensibility of death. Birth Death Breath will be shown at Elmhurst Art Museum from September 22 to November 27, 2016.

Organized by Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions, Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art is made possible by a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts.

‚ÄčThe exhibition runs from September 10 - November 27, 2016 at The Elmhurst Art Museum. For more information or for tickets, call 630.834.0202 or visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.

Billie G. Lynn, White Elephant 1, 2007, ripstop nylon, chiffon, electric fan, 10 x 6 x 8 feet (photo courtesy of Elmhurst Art Museum).

New Elmhurst Art Museum Exhibit Explores the Art of Air