Monday, April 11, 2011

NCECA- You know you want to...

The NCECA show I wanted to highlight in more detail than the others was held at the AIA Tampa Bay, called: You Know You Want to.... 
The official description of the show was "The works of four artists: Jason Briggs, Raymond Gonzalez, Stephanie Lanter, and Kelley Eggert, explore similar formal and conceptual relationships.  The works of each artist explore ideas of need, desire, and sensuality.  Four separate bodies of work inform each other formally in color, surface and form.  They play and interplay.  The viewer is enticed to touch, hold, caress, and squeeze the works.  Tactility plays a vital role in the works presented by all of the artists.  The artists are not bound to traditional notions of material as they work with media outside of the ceramic boundary.  The utilization of material in such a manner reinforces conceptual notions rather than adhering to code of historical practice" (from the AIA website).


I was invited to the opening of the show (not that it was invitation only) by the curator and participating artist, Raymond Gonzalez, as he was the volunteer coordinator at NCECA.  The main reason I chose to highlight this show was that all four of the artists were there, and it always makes a show more interesting to actually be able to speak with the artists.
I find myself both repelled and fascinated by the sculptures of Jason Briggs, which I am sure is how he intends the viewer to react.  All the different textures just beg you to pick up his pieces and feel the surfaces, to explore the folds and loops of clay; but at the same time some of the bits are a little bit off-putting when you see them as almost organ-like shapes.  The furry parts are especially interesting; they are tempting to touch, but also seem to be more like pubic hair than anything else.  Very interesting stuff!  I spoke to Jason about how he creates these; because of the complexity of the detail, I was curious if he mostly added pieces of clay onto the main body to get the different apparently overlapping parts, or if he just did a lot of carving under lips to make it appear that there were additions.  He said that he does both, but most of it is just really careful, detailed carving.  He said he pushes the clay around on the surface a lot, to build up ridges, and then carves under them to create the appearance of a layered surface.  

And then there is Raymond Gonzalez.  Of all the artists in the show, Ray's are the most playful; though all of the pieces are about touch and the tactility of the art, these guys really do look like some sort of toy, they are objects meant to be handled.  I think Ray employs the tension between the piece as an art object and an object meant to be handled even more than the other artists.  The other pieces in the show beg to be touched because of their varied surface qualities, but they look like pieces of art.  Though I appreciate the aesthetic choices made in their creation, Ray's pieces look more like objects meant to be handled regularly than artworks.  My favorite piece at the show was similar to the one pictured, but instead of the rhinestones, it had blinking lights in all the dots.  The best part about it was they were set to blink fairly infrequently, so you had to really watch it to prove that it was actually blinking.  All-in-all, very fun pieces.

Unfortunately I could not find any images of the actual pieces Stephanie Lanter had in the show, but this piece is similar.  The sculptures she had in the show were all reminiscent of phones, some more obviously than others, with lingerie-like crocheted additions. When I was speaking with her she said that it originally never occurred to her that the crocheted bits really did have the feel of lingerie on her pieces, but she decided to take the idea further with one of the pieces that was in the show, and put actual fishnet stockings on the sculpture.  The clay with these textile pieces and the actual phone cords is an interesting mix of materials.  The clay surfaces almost seem like bones, with a lot of carved texture on them that, as always, makes you want to pick them up!  It was fun talking with Stephanie, we both agreed that knitting/crocheting is a great way to relax at the end of the day :) 


First of all, I have to apologise for this really out of focus picture.  Like with Stephanie, I could not find pictures of any of Kelley Eggert's pieces from the show, and I only took this one terrible picture on my phone!  But I had to show it anyways, because this was my favorite piece, though she has some really amazing work online.  I love the play between organic and mechanical in her art, not only in the shapes and forms, but in the materials themselves.  Though clay can be formed into objects that don't look very organic, the material itself is very organic, so combining the clay with metal parts ties together the different aspects of the form.

A much better picture of a really amazing piece that was not in the show.

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