“Figurative Florida” state’s top figurative sculptors at Morean Center for Clay: Opening November 9

31 Oct 2019, Posted by Robin McGowan in Community, Events, Press Releases

St. Petersburg, FL (November 9 thru November 29, 2019) – Figurative Florida a show curated by TJ Erdahl highlighting the state’s top figurative ceramic sculptors will be exhibited at the Morean Center for Clay from November 9 thru 29. An opening reception will be hosted as part of the St. Pete Arts Alliance Second Saturday Art walk on Saturday, November 9 from 5 to 9 pm.

The Florida artists featured include Nan Smith, Pavel Amromin, John Byrd, Liz Bryant, Derek Reveerts, Taylor Robenalt, Mario Mutis, Angela DiColsola, Tammy Marinuzzi, Matt Schaeffer and TJ Erdahl.

Looking beyond what others see to focus on the worn edges of a well-loved toy, the abstraction of meaning in obsolete artifacts, the personal history of a common man or woman, Thaddeus (TJ) Erdahl uses clay sculpture to build a visual narrative. “I use my art to satisfy my urge to document what I see in human nature. I encourage the viewer to disconnect from the present situation and conjure their own legends from my sculptures,” said Erdahl.

Erdahl’s aesthetic is throughout the exhibition. Gainesville sculptor Nan Smith has transitioned from expressing unfulfilled human capabilities to constructing visual narratives that call viewers to action. “Spurred by environmental and health concerns, my current studio practice combines scientific research with art. I have an explicit interest in environmental impacts to the land and waterways,” said Smith. “Through this new work I hope to contribute to a growing awareness of human health issues and to inspire care for the natural world that sustains us.”

Expressing a sense of discontent with the persistent state of things also runs like a river of theme in the work of Pavel Amromin. Currently the Gallery Director and Assistant Professor at Gulf State College, Amromin was born in Gomel, an industrial city in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus. He emigrated to Chicago at the age of 13 and received his Bachelor of Fine Art with a concentration in sculpture, from The School of the Art Insitutue of Chicago. Then earned his MFA in Ceramics from the University of Florida.

John Byrd, an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida is also tackling contemporary topics. “A significant part of my visual language is that of autonomous, decorative art objects (figurines, trophies, souvenirs). Within a domestic space, I’m intrigued by the ability of an encapsulated aesthetic to establish, challenge, and defy characteristics of culture and class,” said Byrd.

Gainesville artist Liz Bryant also explores the tension between individuals and the reality of their environments. She explains that the figures in her work are wrestling. “They explore our conflicts with our surroundings, confusion with relationships, and ultimately the struggle within ourselves. Their seeming normal exterior is a vulnerable shell. It is an illusion that is shedding away to reveal the confused and conflicted personality.”

Interior conflicts are echoed in the work of Gainesville artist Derek Reveerts who is also included in the Figurative Florida Exhibit. The sculptural ceramist works in the School of Art and Art History at University of Florida, when not creating work that is featured in numerous regional, national and international exhibitions and is represented in many private collections.

Gainesville is well represented in this seasonally appropriate dark and introspective exhibit with Taylor Robenalt adding pieces that twist species and blur the lines of flesh and vegetation. She explains, “I use human forms, flora and fauna because these three motifs allow me a direct way to illustrate certain emotions. I view the work as a metaphor for how life is always transforming itself – constantly bringing forth a new chapter of unforeseen existence.”

Introspection and the essence of humanity is also expressed in the work of Columbian born Mario Mutis. “Through the use of indigenous Muysca and Pastos concepts, patterns, and forms alongside the conjunction of everyday life, I am to bring attention to the question, what is the meaning of being human?”

Angela DiCosola, MFA, Professor of Art in Ceramics at Florida Atlantic University, focuses her research and creative investigations in narrative sculptures that thematically reference Western culture to contemplate gender specific behavioral traits and psychological states.

Psychological states are also a source of inspiration for Panama City based artists Tammy Marinuzzi. She impresses on clay what other’s have impressed on her. “Daily interactions, smiles, laughs, sorrows, things that have no cultural bounds, the similarities that make us human and the things that make us different, provide inspiration for my artistic vision,” Marinuzzi says. “I am a people watcher, an observer who reads body language, facial expressions, and finds there my principal source of artistic inspiration.”

Characteristics of gender roles and the essence of individual characters is also a theme in the creations of Matt Shaffer. “Recently I have been inspired by and employing quotes from noted politicians, artists, and writers. The quotes inspire the work and highlight the anti-hero nature of their characters.  The figurative aspects explore the frustration generated by these inconsistencies and their inability to conform to these roles that were cast upon them.”

Visitors who participate in the November 9 opening reception, may also take advantage of complimentary snacks, refreshments, and chair massages offered on a first-come, first-served basis. They can also support the Artists in Residence with a donation to enjoy adult lemonade in a cup made by one of the artists, cheer for their favorite potter in a wheel throwing challenge, and provided the fall weather arrives, warm up while watching a Raku demonstration. Art enthusiasts who want to better understand the art on display can also join TJ Eardahl for a Gallery Talk.

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