B.F.A. exhibition at the Kimura Gallery, April 22-May 3

April 23, 2013

Location: Kimura Gallery (Fine Arts Building, Second Floor)
Show dates: April 22-May 3
Gallery hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

This year’s B.F.A. exhibition focuses on a wide range of introspective themes. Caitlin Smith’s thesis, “Face Value: An Introspection,” consists of five ceramic busts of women that convey relational and self-reflective attitudes towards her perceptions of others. Iram Roberts thesis, “Intensity,” is made up of charcoal drawings reflecting the anxieties of a transgendered man “trapped in the wrong body.” The mixed media work of Sara Henry’s thesis, “The Liar and the Whore,” uses mythic references to explore the “dreams, desires and desperations of the individual.”

"The Fool" by Caitlin Smith (ceramics, 2013).

“The Fool” by Caitlin Smith (ceramics, 2013).

“Face Value: An Introspection,” ceramic sculpture by Caitlin Smith
The body of work I am presenting comes from my curiosity with people and how I relate to them. I wonder how others perceive the world around them, if they recognize when they are being irrational and how often they exaggerate a story. After thinking about others, I internalize my questions and do some self-reflecting. I take a fair amount of pride in having a high-level of self-awareness and observational skill. So for me, creating these sculptures is a way of divulging what I have learned about myself and how I relate to others.

My chosen medium, earthenware, has an addictive and irreversible pull. Working with clay is highly satisfying because it is so easily morphed into whatever shape I desire, in a fairly fast manner. As clay loses moisture, it becomes less malleable. Consequently, I have learned to make quick decisions and resolve problems before my window of opportunity passes. Being a ceramic artist means having patience: patience to refine the sculpture at every stage, to be able to constantly critique the work.

My background in drawing has been influential on the way I sculpt my figures. I’m interested in expressive line qualities used to capture movement and gesture. To incorporate these elements of line, I stylize hair by creating bold flowing locks that seem to have a life of their own. I also dramatize the clothing by accentuating the way fabric folds around the body. For inspiration, I have drawn from the lively prints of Alphonse Mucha. I love the weightless quality that he brings into his figures. I’ve also been looking at classical Italian sculpture by masters such as Michelangelo and Tullio Lombardo. The soft yet rigid hardness of marble is an aesthetic that I find captivating.

My exhibition, “Face Value: An Introspection,” portrays concepts that I find intriguing about myself after a session of self-reflection. For instance, I have an ability to drift away into a fantasy life, to be blind to things that are so obvious and repress emotions because I don’t want to seem weak or incompetent. I take comfort in the idea that the quirks I find in myself are also characteristics that could belong to anyone else. It helps me relate to people around me.

"Ambivalence" by Iram Roberts, charcoal drawing.

“Ambivalence” by Iram Roberts, (charcoal drawing, 2013).

“Intensity,” charcoal drawings by Iram Roberts
Being a transgendered man (born of the female sex but identifying as the male gender), I have emotions that are difficult to express through words to someone who is not transgendered. The idea behind my body of work is the visual exploration and presentation of the emotions a transgendered man feels while dealing with being transgendered.

Many of these emotions revolve around my personal body image. Using photos that I had taken of myself, I have created surreal, distorted self portraits that explore the emotional issues I’ve encountered being transgendered: feeling trapped in the wrong body, the need to augment my body to reflect how I feel it should be, depression, hatred of my body, anxiety about sexuality, confusion, sadness, isolation, fear, disgust and intense anger. In contrast to these distortions, parts of the figure are rendered more realistically to represent the contrast between what people see, a woman, and what I feel is underneath, a man. These drawings were created with a variety of charcoals, applied in an assortment of methods for contrast.

This work is about sharing what I feel is a profound human experience that not everyone goes through or knows about. It is not about forcing a point of view or agenda. My hope is to help enlighten others on the subject as well as expose them to something possibly foreign and unfamiliar through an intense visual experience.

"Siren" (detail) by Sara Henry (mixed media, 2013).

“Siren” (detail) by Sara Henry (mixed media, 2013).

“The Liar and the Whore,” mixed media sculpture by Sara Henry
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” To be an artist, one must not lose the ability or the joy of imagination nor the passion of individualism. The voice of the individual is the most powerful resource we have. There is no better way than the creation of art, in any form, to vocalize the dreams, desires and desperations of the individual.

This exhibition, “The Liar and The Whore,” investigates the plight of the individual, and poses questions about human afflictions, such as love, failure and rejection. I have chosen two mythological creatures to depict these concerns in a way that can be interpreted and understood in different ways.

The first sculpture is loosely inspired by a siren from Greek mythology. The siren was half-bird, half-woman and possessed a divine but deceitful nature. With her beautiful song, she lured sailors into the rocky coast of her island where the sailors would shipwreck and either drown or crawl upon the island and die of starvation because they refused to leave the sound of the siren’s song. It has been thought that without feathers or the ability to eat, the siren’s divine nature kept her alive and she was fated to live only until the mortals who heard her songs were able to pass her by.

The second sculpture is modeled after the body and spirit of a horse and the nature of the centaur from Greek mythology. Horses have accompanied humans throughout history, from riding together into battle and working together in fields and farms, to being a close companion or a therapeutic device. Centaurs were beings caught between two natures, symbolizing contradictions and conflict, two fundamental concepts of my artwork. The use of these two creatures is to put forth the feelings of two beings that, although the temptation for love, or lust, is great, they cannot truly be together, for they are beings of opposite, yet similar worlds.

By the exaggeration of form and through the use of contrasting materials such as wood and metal, porcelain and paper, I endeavor to create worlds that expand beyond the boundaries of the human mind. In creating these worlds, I aspire to fuse the contradictions of what we believe to be true, and what is actually real.

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