Friday, February 17, 2012

Crossing Over

When I made plans to come to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts to be a resident artist, I was excited about the variety of workshops offered (wood, metals, fibers, glass, books) and thought I might step outside of my comfort zone and learn a new media. Truth be told, I have not made any time to *cheat* on clay. We are definitely in an exclusive relationship.  Well until now that is.  But only a little bit.  Let me give you the backstory.

For the past 8 months, I have been surrounded by three other resident artist who are definitely not loyal to any one media.  They navigate between metals, wood, glass, clay, fibers and print. Lisa Johnson, who received her MFA in metals, also incorporates slipcast porcelain and gemstones into her sculptures and jewelry.  She learned how to slump glass and cast paper while at Arrowmont.  Her stunning Handle with Care series highlights these new developments.

Lisa Johnson
Dustin Farnsworth has been creating detailed architectural structures that give us a glimpse into the psychological states of the characters within.  He controls every aspect of the scene:  from building the structure, carving the figure, to sewing the curtains and the clothes.  He is currently working on a massive theater which he torched (yes, lit on FIRE).  Even unfinished, the work is emotionally charged and breathtaking.
Dustin Farnsworth

Phil Haralam creates abstract sculptures that act as psychological portraits, as layered and complex as the human psyche.  The sculptures cannot be assessed at a distance.  A closer look will reveal messages which are protected and hidden from view.  Phil selects materials such as rock salt, colored sand, lava rock, as well as recognizable domestic objects, such as baker's racks, and tufted stools to rest his pieces upon.
Phil Haralam

When I was invited by The Clay Studio to participate in Small Favors VII, a special exhibition and sale of miniature objects, I knew I had a chance to venture into unfamiliar territory.  Artist are told they can reference current work in a smaller format, or explore an entirely new idea. Mixed media works or media other than ceramic are acceptable.  I had been working on some tumblers and plates illustrating pranksters and troublemakers and decided that the Small Favors show would be the perfect opportunity to translate my illustrations into three dimensions.

Chandra DeBuse, Troublemaker
The sculpture shows an older woman and a bat.  Here's the story:  the bat is completely mesmerized by the woman's hair and compelled to fly toward it and in it. The woman's hair becomes the bat's playground.  This sculpture captures the moments before the bat flies into her hair.  The bat is the troublemaker and the woman is the unsuspecting victim.  While composing the sculpture, I sought out the advice of my colleagues, especially when it came to attachment of the figures, building the structure, packing the work for shipping.  All in all, a great exercise.

I also have to say that I have been thinking about the work of Pattie Chalmers, who was at Arrowmont last month.  She seamlessly travels across media:  sculptures, vessels, digital, as her concepts dictate.  Amazing artist!

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