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Tipton Galleries

Earthen Bodies: Ceramics as Sculptural Form / Slocumb Galleries, Johnson City, Tennessee

Earthen Bodies: Ceramics as Sculptural Form at Slocumb Galleries, Johnson City

Earthen Bodies: Ceramics as Sculptural Form / Slocumb Galleries, Johnson City, Tennessee
January 21 - February 14, 2014

The ETSU Department of Art & Design and Slocumb Galleries in partnershp with the Urban Redevelopment Alliance present “Earthen Bodies: Ceramics as Sculptural Form” from January 21 to February 14, at the Tipton Gallery. Some of the participating artists will discuss their work during the reception on February 7, First Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.. In addition, the ArtIfact gallery talk is scheduled on February 13, Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the exhibit as it explores the diverse sculptural forms created by artists working on figurative clay in the region.

Most often, ceramics is associated with vessels and utilitarian objects, and has provided an excellent array of functional forms overshadowing its aspect as equally remarkable medium for other sculptural configurations. This show is curated to celebrate the figurative and non-utilitarian form of ceramic as art form. Ceramics is one of the more popular and established craft media in Southern Appalachian region, and this malleable medium has evolved to various permutations and tactile experimentations. The exhibition “Earthen Bodies” features works that provide diverse perspectives and a range of styles and utilization of ceramics as medium for sculpture.

The invited artists from the Tri-states of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia are Sally Brogden, Melisa Cadell, Carol Gentithes, Mindy Herrin, Kevin Kao, Richard Kortum, Val Lyle, AJ Masterson, and Ed Miller.
Curated by Karlota Contreras-Koterbay.

ETSU faculty Mindy Herrin and alumni Melisa Caddell both create meticulous and complex figurative sculptures, mostly investigating the female body fabricated with other media such as encaustics and metal works. Herrin describes her work as depicting dialogue as surfacing in the “guise of affliction or struggle.” Her anatomical heroines illustrate women’s physical struggle and mental perspectives in its aspiration to overcome the body’s limitation. In parallel, Cadell’s elongated, and at times emaciated or mutated figures are visualization of her thoughts on “confinement and transcendence of the human body”, often as efforts to provoke dialogue on issues such as mortality and the unexpected consequences of genetics and technology.

This common thread of employing the female body is also prevalent on the works of Val Lyle. Lyle’s ceramic torsos made from clay are gestural forms that are characterized as sensual, organic and emotive as the artist strives to relate to the viewers on a “primitive level”.

Last year’s Positive Negative national juried exhibit’s Best of Show awardee Kevin Kao’s work also explores the human form, yet his figures portray a very different crowd from the female sculptors in the exhibition. Most obvious are the androgynous or male subjects and its uncanny statement on race and identity. Kao’s “character-objects are surreal images that portray whimsy, pain and satisfaction,” at times reminiscent of ‘super flat’ aesthetics and anime generation. This younger generation of Kao, Ed Miller and AJ Masterson employ humor on their work, at times anthropomorphing animal figures. In this era of social networking, artists like Miller who considers his work as form of journalism as he “observe the world and report my findings through sculpture”, it is not surprising to find quirky LOL animals and complex ‘selfies’ in 3D.

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