Nontraditional sculptures draw a crowd to NLC.
By Ansley Lewis
Seven graduate students from the UTSA art and art history department impressed about 60 Northeast Lakeview College gallery viewers Feb. 20 with unique sculptures created from nontraditional materials.
The “New Sculpture” exhibit includes sculptures created using furniture, construction material, steel, cement, Mountain Dew bottles, paint and mixed media.
Visitors took a tour of the gallery before Buster Graybill, senior lecturer at UTSA and curator, introduced the artists and purpose of the exhibit.
“When I was attending university, it was difficult to find galleries showcasing artists my age,” Graybill said. “I want students to see artists within their age proximity and the creative work these artists can do.”
The first piece visitors see when entering the gallery is “Sweet Cream Spore” by Alyssa Danna.
“I wanted the audience to feel the contrasting senses of attraction and repulsion. They see this beautiful cream-colored couch and then have this overwhelming panic when they see the spores,” Danna said.
On the sides of “Sweet Cream Spore,” Danna has two sculptures titled “Succulent Switch” and “Fester.”
Facing “Fester” is Stephanie Darling’s mixed media piece “Mourning ‘til Flight.” Darling used the extinct, ivory-billed woodpecker in her piece, which many guests compared to the legendary phoenix of mythology. ”
I look at cycles in nature and culture. For example, death and decay are unifying parts of life,” Darling said. Displayed on the floor next to Darling’s piece is “Carry On” by Ashley Nepote.
Nepote took cement slabs and sculpted them to resemble suitcases. ”
My work stems from going to high school overseas. It took me a while to feel like I was at home once I returned. That’s why I like to use materials that represent being grounded,” Nepote said.
Along the rear wall of the gallery, visitors can see Justin Korver’s sculptures “Construction 10: Counter Weight” and “Construction 11: Caution Flags.” ”It is part of a body of work that focuses on construction, caution, limitation and tenderness as themes,” Korver said. “They are built in a similar manner to the inside of domestic walls, but with idiosyncratic outcomes.”
Korver used Mountain Dew bottles for “Construction 10,” which became a center of attention for the piece. ”
My father and brother have both worked as contractors, and I observed that Mountain Dew was used as a kind of nourishment, or to energize the body,” Korver said. “Within ‘Construction 10: Counter Weight,’ it becomes a metaphor for pressure, weight and energy and literally props up the sculpture.”
On the wall across from Korver’s sculpture are four chairs.
Three of the chairs are raised several feet off the ground and secured in place with nails, while the fourth sits on the floor against the wall.
The artist of the “1000 Series” is Roberto Celis.
Celis said he dislikes the level of mass production in society and showcases it through his pieces. ”
People do not really care about products that are mass-produced. They tend to care about something that has a history behind it,” Celis said. “If there is no history, there is no identity.” Adjacent to Celis’ chairs is Braydon Gold’s piece “Irregular Polyhedron” made from steel and plastic. ”
This was my first time using steel,” Gold said. “In order to get the swirl effect on the metal, I used a flap disk grinding wheel. I took sheets of plastic to form the smaller shape, and then covered it in (orange) acrylic paint.”
In between Gold’s “Irregular Polyhedron” and “Wrinkled Green” are three pieces by Raul Gonzalez. ”To Labor Together” resembles a giant orange construction sign with the words “collaborate” and “WERK” painted on the canvas.
“Cheef” and “Super” hang below it, and are made from re-purposed construction barrels, spray paint, latex and tape to resemble vests. ”
I listen to hip-hop music and noticed that a lot of rappers I like – Wale, Big Sean, A$AP Mob, Drake – were talking about working,” Gonzalez said. “I think those lyrics are often overlooked because most people just like to party. I wanted to find my own way of showing that “WERK” is important.”
Gonzalez says he uses “WERK” instead of “WORK” because he feels his version fits the pronunciation.
Several of the exhibiting artists were on hand at the opening and had advice to share with other art students. ”
The ones that make it are the ones that head back to the studio,” Celis said. ”
It takes a lot of work. You must be self-driven,” Gold said. “You are your best promoter. Have confidence in yourself and make new work – always.”
“New Sculpture” will be on display through March 20 in the gallery in Room 132 of the performing arts center NLC. Visitors are required to set up an appointment for entry.
For more information and appointments, call academic assistant Carrol Price-Champion at 210-486-5646 or Instructor Jasmyne Graybill at 210-486-5643.