The Austin Chronicle

Hummel Gone Wild

Debra Broz's porcelain hybrid beasts would make Dr. Moreau proud

By Wayne Alan Brenner, November 11, 2011, Arts

Of course we're taking a closer look at the work of Debra Broz here. After all, the Austin Museum of Art itself, about as authoritative as a Texas arts entity can be, designated Broz as part of "New Art in Austin: 15 To Watch" in the most recent iteration of that triennial series featuring local artists of note. But we also slavishly follow those old bumper stickers that say "Question Authority," so we personally checked out her work. Just to be sure, you know: We wouldn't want to offend our readers with a secondhand recommendation.

Broz herself is using secondhand things to offend nature lately. That is, the artist has been taking old porcelain animals that you might find in the housewares section of a thrift store and she's been ... combining them. In ways that would make a genetic engineer blush.

"Whoa," we think, a little stunned by what's on display, cognitive dissonance blooming between the tiny, delicate sculptures and the big, freakish changes visited upon them. "Debra 'Dr. Moreau' Broz," we think, as we take in the bizarre menagerie she's conjured. A woodland creature with the body of a deer and the head of a rabbit – except the rabbit's head has the nubs of beginning horns. A shark with its head upside-down on its streamlined body. A dachshund with eight legs, standing at meerkatlike attention. An Afghan hound with a tongue curling out and out of its open mouth like a long, pink mamba. A lamb wearing a surgical mask. Oh, there's more.

What makes this work especially remarkable is that Broz, a professional restorer of porcelain (who also runs the Pump Project art space), has joined and finished these pieces with such expertise, such smooth polish, that you can't tell they were ever anything else. Either that, or she's having them shipped in from the Hummel store of some Margaret Atwoodian dystopian future. Either way, we're impressed and think you will be, too.

Debra Broz will show at Pump Project Art Complex, 702 Shady Ln. For more information, call 264-5883 or visit

Download the East Austin Studio Tour map.

Copyright © 2024 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.