Feature Articles

March 2011

Artspace in Raleigh, NC, Offers Works by Amy Gross and Barry Sparkman

Artspace in Raleigh, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Microcosms/Macrocosms, featuring works by Amy Gross and Barry Sparkman, on view in Gallery 2 through Mar. 31, 2012.

Microcosms/Macrocosms presents the work of two artists exploring similar concepts, though utilizing vastly different media and techniques. Amy Gross’ two- and three-dimensional works are stitched, sculptural fiber works, while Barry Sparkman’s mixed media works incorporate printmaking and painting techniques.

Gross’ works are an attempt to merge the natural observable world with her own inner life. Gross notes that she is “trying to remake nature sieved through my experiences. I’ve always been attracted and frightened by things that are in their fullest bloom but on the verge of spoiling. There’s beauty and sadness in them, heightened by the undeniable inevitability of their ending in death. This fascination and fear describes my own psychology more than I would like to admit.”

The process forces Gross to consider that which she would rather not – the heedlessness of time, of aging, and of the stealthy undermining of illness. Works similar to those exhibited at Artspace began when some people closest to Gross were diagnosed with illnesses that at the time were mostly unknown. With few symptoms or signs, Gross began a process that made the microscopic – essentially the invisible – real. Her current stitched works mimic both the microscopic and life forms in our human eye scale. These forms grow, take over, and climb. Though they diagram stages of decay and change, the different is that these forms are not corporeal – they cannot evolve or die. Gross recognizes that making these objects doesn’t alter reality, but for the artist, it freezes time, if just for a little while.

Gross was born and raised on Long Island, NY, and received her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC. After attending The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in ME, she returned to NY and established Color Box Studio, Inc., a design company specializing in textile and surface design, and Amy Designs, Inc., concentrating on children’s product development. Following a move to South Florida in 1999 Gross began working in fiber. Her pieces evolved from beaded, painted, and embroidered works on canvas to three-dimensional embellished objects.

Gross’ works has been widely exhibited including in Florida at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, The Donna Tribby Gallery, The Armory Art Center, and 18 Rabbit Gallery, as well as nationally including at Three Graces Gallery and the Portsmouth Museum of Art, Portsmouth, NH, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA, Loudon House Gallery, Lexington, KY, and Kenise Barnes Fine Art, NY. Her work is represented by Watson MacRae Gallery. Gross’ work has appeared in the summer 2009 issue of Fiber Arts and the winter 2009 issue of Visual Overtures magazine. In 2012, her work will be included in the botany-themed issue of HESA Inprint.

Barry Sparkman uses abstraction to suggest the sense of a subconscious universe. Lines and shapes twist and stream through multicolored environments to create the sense of a fourth-dimensional space accessible through the artist’s imagination. The spiraling tendrils and wave-like forms often seem to allude to living organisms; the ambiguous space they inhabit simultaneously suggests a microcosm and a macrocosm. While his imagery typically arises spontaneously, based upon formal or emotional impulses, more recently he has been inspired by images from biology, particularly microbiology.

Sparkman often works subtractively when creating his oil paintings, laying down paint and then scraping off lines and layers to create complex, textured surfaces and subtle color effects. His recent monoprints have provided another means for layering colors and textures through the use of photo-silkscreen. The swirling, colorful, other-worldly environments that he creates are simultaneously beautiful and alien, even while the organic and spatial elements refer distantly to our more familiar, mundane world.

A native of Tennessee, Sparkman was an artist from an early age. After completing his BFA at Middle Tennessee State University, he earned a MFA in painting at Louisiana State University in 1989, and recently earned a second MFA in printmaking from the University of Miami. He has held a variety of jobs while pursuing his art career, including working on a ranch in Montana and running a convenience store. Sparkman also has worked as a museum preparator and galleries manager at the Art Museum of Florida International University and the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami. He has taught at Florida International University, Miami and Clarion University, Pennsylvania, among others.

Sparkman has shown his work extensively, including solo shows in Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, and Chapel Hill, as well as group shows across the country from Provincetown, MA, to Alamosa, CO. He currently works out of his studio in Phoenix, AZ.

Artspace, a thriving visual art center located in downtown Raleigh, brings the creative process to life through inspiring and engaging education and community outreach programming, a dynamic environment of over 30 professional artists studios, and nationally acclaimed exhibitions. Approximately 95 artists hold professional memberships in the Artspace Artists Association. Thirty-five of these artists have studios located at Artspace. Artspace is located in Historic City Market in Raleigh at the corner of Blount and Davie Streets.

Artspace is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, the Raleigh Arts Commission, individuals, corporations, and private foundations.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the center at 919/821-2787 or visit (www.artspacenc.org).


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