PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



[Photo Story] ‘A Peek Behind The Curtains’

This week, the Visual Arts building is home to a new kind of artistic adventure. Throughout the Zoller Gallery, the “A Peek Behind The Curtain” exhibition flaunts striking sculptures, elaborate tapestries, and an enormous circus tent. The sculptor/installation artist, Nikki Lau, is a San Francisco native seeking her MFA with a concentration in ceramics. She created this thought-provoking display with intentions of exploring the intersection of three very different but relevant themes: identity, politics, and how we view one another.

DSC_0253 DSC_0254

Lau chose ten historical people to display in the exhibit. The number ten was chosen to represent the ten performances that occur every hour at Coney Island Circus Sideshow. Lau transformed her core self into her features. Among them were some very notable sculptures…

DSC_0255The World’s Tiniest Man

DSC_0256The Half-Boy

DSC_0258Prince Randian, the living torso

DSC_0257Lionel the lion-faced man

DSC_0259Dolly Dimples, the dainty fat ladyDSC_0261Chang and Eng, siamese twins fused by their livers

DSC_0263and Roberta-Ray, half-man/half-woman

Lau spoke eloquently in a Q&A session about her personal influences and inspiration for the art. Lau emphasized her desire to utilize all five senses in her exhibition: the sight of the sculptures, the sound of circus music and dialogue from the movie “Freaks” on a loop, the touch and taste of peanuts, and lastly, the smell of sawdust covering the floor.

And before you ask, yes, the peanuts are free, and yes, you can throw the shells on the ground. Lau says it gives the exhibit a more “authentic circus feel.”


Lau also explained the multifaceted tapestries that line the entryway. On one side is a painting of the freak show character and on the other side is a quote from Donald Trump. In response to a question prompted by an Integrative Arts student, Lau responded forthright, “[Trump] knows how to cut deep.”

DSC_0278 DSC_0266DSC_0273DSC_0265If you have five minutes between class or you can spare some time after grabbing a cup of coffee from Au Bon Pain, take a look at this intriguing exhibit and feel free to share your experience with us.


After all, we can always benefit from the insight that art can give us, right?

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Jamie Saslaw

Jamie is a New Jersey native majoring in Film/Video and Spanish. Besides photography and filmmaking, she is a devoted puppy enthusiast and aspires to care and love for (approximately) one million dogs someday.


Other posts by Jamie

[Photo Story] Sauly Boy’s Opens On Allen Street

Sauly Boy’s is officially open on Allen Street with gourmet hotdogs, burgers, and loaded french fries. We took a closer look at the industrial chic atmosphere.

OS Cribs: RIP To The Big Onion

[Photo Story] The Liberal Arts Undergrad Festival

One Final Family Hour: Stepping Into Familiarity And Closer To My Dad

After losing my father to cancer, I thought there was nothing THON could offer me that I didn’t already know. After four years, I found comfort in the familiar.

Your State Patty’s Daylong Attire Guide

If you waited until the last minute to plan your State Patty’s daylong outfit, we have your back.

Send this to a friend