Three exhibitions of contemporary sculpture will open at Grounds For Sculpture for its Fall/Winter 2010 Exhibition Season. Opening October 10 and running through April 10, 2010, Noble Steeds features the work of Deborah Butterfield and The López Family: Santeros (Carvers of Saints) displays sculpture and wooden reliefs by Felix, Joseph, and Krissa López. Also opening October 10 and on display through January 2, 2011 is the International Sculpture Center’s 2011 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards. New Works in the Park include works by Larry Bell, Mark Fredenburg, Gordon Gund, and Khang Pham-New.
Deborah Butterfield has always used horses as her motif. Her artwork in Noble Steeds is made of found metal or discarded pieces of wood – or cast in bronze to resemble those media. Her horses are elegant, gentle representations of these magnificent animals. While not realistically portrayed, each sculpture conceptualizes the heart and spirit of a horse. Movement is implied rather than overt, evoking the serene and profoundly moving existence of an animal much loved by the artist.
Felix, Joseph, and Krissa López’s work in The López Family: Santeros exhibits a centuries-old artistic tradition – the carving of saints. Originally conceived as substitutes for the religious images from Spain and Mexico that were almost impossible to come by for 18th century colonists in New Mexico, these carvings became important works of art recognized for their own merit. Made of materials native to the region, the sculptures are either in the round or in relief and contain faith-based images. Felix, his son Joseph and his daughter Krissa are nationally known for the delicate and tender interpretations they render in wood and paint.
Grounds For Sculpture is also pleased to present the 2011 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards, which represents the tenth consecutive year of an ongoing partnership with the International Sculpture Center. In order to support, encourage, and recognize the work of young sculptors, the International Sculpture Center presents this award competition each year to its member colleges and universities. This year 20 winners and 15 honorable mentions were selected from 445 nominees. The distinguished jury included three jurors: Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Associate Curator, Special Projects, El Museo del Barrio, New York; Oliver Herring, Artist, New York; and Creighton Michael, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Hunter College, New York.
New Works in the Park presents works by five artists this season. Larry Bell’s Sumer project, consisting of Sumer Figure 14 and Sumer Figure 23, conceptually arose from an archeological dig in lower Mesopotamia, where cuneiform tablets had been unearthed. These tablets told of the civilization of Sumer, buried more than 4,000 years ago. Leaving no physical depictions of themselves, the Sumerians have allowed Bell the liberty to create figures from his own vision: stick-like, calligraphic figures that represent a society inordinately important during its lifetime but now left only to an artist’s imagination.
Mark Fredenburg’s work, Camera Man, is typical of his sculptural oeuvre. While his work consists seemingly of humorous commentary on contemporary society’s increasingly narcissistic tendencies to pose in front of a lens, his exhibited work has an additional reference – that of ancient archeology. Upon looking closely, the viewer can decipher temples and pyramids of the Mayans. Placed at ground level, the sculpture becomes an artifact as well as art. In this way, it affords insights into past cultures while making a statement on the vanity of present ones.
Gordon Gund was born sighted and studied art in his youth but as a young adult he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which eventually left him blind. As a boy in Nantucket, he became familiar with marine life; images of fish and shells made an indelible impression on him, as shown in his work, Legacy. Retaining those in his mind, he has been able to create works on these themes by touch. While seemingly realistic, each of Gund’s sculptures has abstract elements which elicit emotional reactions and reveal the artist’s sensitivity to his subjects.
Khang Pham-New’s travels have influenced his life and his art, as shown in Escutchean. His life has been a journey beginning in South Vietnam in 1968, subsequently becoming one of the “boat people” at the age of 12 in search of a new home. He then found himself in refugee camp in Malaysia, before being adopted and relocating to Canada. After traveling back to Vietnam and reuniting with his birth family, he began to associate his work with his native land. His work reflects the harmony and balance of the centuries-old yin and yang philosophy of the east, yet his biomorphic abstract forms reflect his contemporary western sensibility – producing an effect that is serene, yet emotional and expressive.