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St Pete artist uses light to express global recurrent theme of COVID-19 moving on air

07 Aug 2020, Posted by Robin McGowan in ART Matters, Events, News, Press Releases

The Morean Center for Clay is located in the Heart of the Warehouse Arts District at the intersection of 5th Street South and 22nd Avenue South. Housed in a 1926 Seaboard Freight Warehouse Depot building, the expansive spaces that used to house trains full of dry goods and construction materials, now host the studios of 50 working clay artists. The walls of the space still echo with history. The names of some of the largest companies in St. Petersburg dissolved by economic crises, polio and social uprisings of the past, are letter-painted-ghosts on the timber beams.  The 90-year old warehouse doors are sealed with glass overlooking the family of bike riders and determined speed walkers who pass by on the Pinellas Trail. [Text MOREAN to 56512 and select Morean Center for Clay to access more information on the history of the building and a video tour.]

Hundreds of glowing clay vessels arranged in an expansive arc will be visible through the massive windows. Created by St. Petersburg artist Tess Oldfield, the light installation is titled Kore: Leitmotif. According to the artist, Leitmotif is a leading motif or a recurrent theme throughout a musical composition representative of a person, action or idea.  According to the artist, “this installation is an expression of the global recurrent theme, COVID-19.” Oldfield uses Arduino technology to modulate the lights, rhythmically creating compositions that emulate music. The large immersive installations aim to heighten sensory experiences.

“This is a place of tremendous history and the perfect setting for a contemporary artwork exploring the challenges of our times,” said Howayda Affan, Executive Director of the Morean Arts Center. “This installation will be free, accessible to everyone along the trail, and is consistent with our mission of connecting the community with art and enhancing economic development.”

Oldfield earned a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2019. She was the Studio Coordinator at Gustin Ceramics, and Chris Gustin’s Assistant from 2017-2020 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She has recently relocated her studio practice and resides in St. Petersburg, Florida. Oldfield was awarded a 2020 Individual Artist Grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance that sponsored the installation Leitmotif from her series of immersive lighting installations Kore.

Joining the Kore: Leitmotif installation on the exterior of the Morean Center for clay will be an installation created by their summer art camp students. Large scale face masks constructed in mixed media will be affixed to screens facing the trailside or 5th Avenue South street scape side of the building. The student installation was designed by Morean Center for Clay Artist in Residence Danny Dobrow.

The art work will be on view beginning Saturday, August 8th from 8 to 11 pm, and will continue Thursday through Saturday evenings until the end of August. People on the Pinellas Trail who are exploring the art exhibition may text the word MOREAN to 56512 and click on the Morean Center for Clay to see information about the artists and their installations.

Access to the galleries and retail spaces inside of the Morean Center for Clay where buyers can purchase the functional pottery and clay art of the working studio artists is limited to 10 am to 5 pm on Thursdays through Saturday during the summer.

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