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Critical Essay #1 (Patricia Piccinini) “Surrogate”


Patricia Piccinini’s “Surrogate” is a very beautiful piece that I was happily surprised to see in person. The piece was located on the right as I entered the 21C Hotel Museum. The hotel is located on the Bentonville square in Arkansas and I love to visit it whenever I can just to see this artwork by Patricia Piccinini. The art is very shocking at first sight and that is mainly the reason it draws so much attention. Granted that it’s one of the first art pieces located in the front of the hotel.

Alongside this, I admired Piccinini’s art long before I saw anything she created in person. When I saw the art piece as I turned the corner I nearly screamed and couldn’t even believe my eyes. It was almost like running into a celebrity at the mall. I didn’t know very much about Patricia Piccinini and why she chose to create such abnormal pieces. I simply thought she created them for the sole purpose of shock value, or just her own random, absurd ideas. I thought she casually took ideas from her brain and made them into live scenes she could look upon rather than dwell on. To most they would seem like nightmares, and even to me that’s how they seemed at first. But I soon learned I was far from being correct.

Surrogate” is a model of a very realistic creature that sits upon a play mat. It looks to be as if it is alive, simply glancing around its surroundings. Its back has a scaly shell between pouches of other emerging creatures who are seeming to birth their way out of the back of the “mama” creature. The “mama” creature seems content and at peace. It does not seem to bring any threat of harm to the viewers or the other creatures coming from its pouches. The creature seems to resemble a rodent with no hair and a hard shell on its back. The creatures in its back also seem to resemble rodents. Granted a few of the creatures seem to have fur and the others do not. Patricia Piccinini accomplishes these creations by using silicone, polyurethane, leather, plywood, and human hair. That is surely what gives them their realistic nature and their illusion of living flesh and bone creatures. The piece is 180 x 306 x 103cm. The size gives the piece an even more realistic feel. This is because the actual size of the creatures shown would be their legit sizes if they were to exist.

Therefore, I find the visual piece to be breathtaking and beautiful because of its obvious appeal and curious nature. But what I really admire about this piece is Patricia Piccinini’s message. She speaks of how the world today would seem to reject such abnormal creatures. But if they were to truly exist in the world, would humans be able to love them and care for them as much as humans do to each other and the already existing animals in the world. That is what captures my heart and will forever keep Patricia Piccinini as the biggest influence and inspiration in my life as both an artist, and a human being.


Piccinini, Patricia. Surrogate. Digital image. PATRICIA PICCININI. N.p., 2005. Web. 03 Oct. 2013. <;.


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