Rebecca Manson sent me a text message not too long ago with an image of a unicycle she had just sculpted and an accompanying message that read, “Here’s a sneak peek, his name is Peter.” It was adorable and part of an exhibit she had created at CSULB. But then moments later my phone rang, “Daniel” she said in horror, “the main sculpture in my exhibit just broke.”
Barnaby Barford is a British artist who works primarily with ceramics to create unique narrative pieces. He works with both mass-market and antique found porcelain figurines, cutting up and exchanging elements or adding to them and repainting them, to create sculptures which are often sinister and sardonic but invariably humorous. With irony, he draws a portrait of our contemporary lives.
In Barford’s world a kitsch figure of a 19th century peasant boy becomes a 20th century teenage thug in a hoodie; cute little girls roast adorable lambs on a spit; a rosy cheeked boy beats and cracks humpty dumpty into hundreds of pieces. Through his unique works, Barford explores all aspects of our society. Following in the tradition of Hogarth, Chaucer, Dickens and Shakespeare; with a dark sense of English humor and satire, Barford’s work explores and celebrates the human condition.
Working with only “earth, fire and emotions,” Kathy Ruttenberg’s fairytale-like ceramic sculptures create a world that is immediately captivating, but the viewer might be surprised by what’s down the rabbit hole. Her violent and devastating visions are disturbingly peaceful, idyllic and sustainable. Erasing the boundary of the metaphorical and the literal, Ruttenberg’s world is filled with lush foliage, woodland creatures and puzzling, slightly grim yet open-ended reveries of gender relations. Men are always portrayed as animals in gentlemen’s clothing, and women are always well-groomed and dressed in rounded skirts. On one hand, men are literally animal-like savages, but at the same time they are native creatures of the woodlands and the earth itself, whereas the female figures are the outsiders, if not intruders. It is hard to tell if they are men masquerading as animals, or vice versa. Death, in works such as “The Moment After”, is the stark aftermath of failed love, but also an opportunity to blossom imaginatively and become one with earth.
See Kathy’s work in person in NYC at STUX gallery on view now until May 5th.
Rebecca Manson, one of the current sculptors in residence at Cal State University Long Bech [CSULB], told me I had to drive out to the campus to see what Christopher Miller was working on in his studio. So, with my full trust in her hands, I took the hour long and then some drive from Los Angeles to Long Beach to scope it out. And when I got to Miller’s studio I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was a painting machine, but one made out of organic materials like bamboo instead of steel, with markers hanging from strings stretched 5 ft high. The whole thing was powered by several fans that would cause the pens to sway back and forth across a massive sheet of paper, which was taped to the ground. Christopher then had various obstacles placed around his painting surface that the pen could work around. For instance, there was one sculpture composed of about 50 triangles that restricted the motion of the pen as well as one of Rebecca’s ceramic pieces that blocked out certain areas of the paper to create an ever -evolving, uniquely beautiful, and chaotic masterpiece. I especially love how you can really feel the heart of Christopher’s piece when you see it in person, since every single element is either hand painted or constructed. Even the strings that are holding the pens have little paper accessories attached to them, which remind me of tie-died Mondrian mobiles. Christopher is still working on this particular sculpture and can always use donations of various painting supplies like inks and markers to help progress the work. If you’re interested in helping him out, you can send him a direct email at Chrismmiller[at]hotmail[dot]com. Watch a video of the piece in action after the jump.
Steve Gorman’s ceramic works explore his obsession with nature, animal and human forms, and even his interests in fashion. His sculptures are fantastic and futuristic forms that live between the fine line of abstracting and figuration. Steve’s current exhibit titled Reanimate at the Nerman Museum Of Contemporary Art in Overland Park Kansas is not to be missed. The show will be up until May 8th.