Feature Articles

March 2014

Clemson University in Clemson, SC, Features Art Faculty Exhibition

Clemson University in Clemson, SC, is presenting its Biennial Art Faculty Exhibition, on view in the Lee Gallery, through Mar. 26, 2014.

The exhibition showcases contemporary work being created by faculty in the Department of Art at Clemson University. Participating artists include: Sydney A. Cross, printmaking; David Detrich, sculpture; Carly Drew, drawing; Christina Hung, digital media; Joey Manson, sculpture; Todd McDonald, painting; Greg Shelnutt, sculpture; Kathleen Thum, drawing; Denise Woodward-Detrich, functional ceramics; Anderson Wrangle, photography; and Valerie Zimany, ceramic sculpture.

In the past four years Clemson art faculty have exhibited, published and presented over 120 emerging and renowned venues. Greg Shelnutt, chair of the art department and participating faculty in the exhibition, describes the role of the Visual Arts faculty as both “creative researchers” and “life- long learners,”

“…some of us cross landscapes and waterways, while others explore digital realms; some of us traverse metaphorical institutional realms, while others explore interior, conceptual, and metaphorical spaces and objects: real, imagined, and fabricated. However, one significant shared locale unites all these artists: the institution. We are all artist-educators...developing new ways of seeing, new ways of understanding, and ultimately, new ways of being,” said Shelnutt.

Printmaking Alumni Distinguished Professor of Art, Sydney Cross, fabricates her collaged imagery from gathered images found in media and contemporary culture. The iconic selections from art, fashion, interior design, and advertisement create and intriguing juxtapositions of pattern, color, text, and imagery. Architectural structures overlay a snarling wild animal; the human figure meets upholstered patterns; a jewelry ad borders images of fossilized aquatic life (all of which she refers to as a reference of cultural strata), coincidentally resulting in a posed societal criticism. The work is an alluring stimulation the viewer must indulge in and it rewards with the shadows of subliminal implications.

David Detrich’s wall mount installations, paradoxical and ironic, open a “dialogue of opposition.” These conjoined spheres of indistinguishable tangibility are cropped and magnified to abstraction: posing more questions than propositions. While the action of the work maybe industrial or esoteric and the references, biological, landscape, innovation, or the ethereal, these obscured lenses of hieroglyphic narratives are made congruous in their adjacency.

Carly Drew’s large scale drawings portray a land’s personal history and native context echoed in the waves of rolling rural landscape that the artist points out is ever changing due to agriculture, the economy, industry, and domestication. Drew portrays this erosion and evolution with translucent layers of meticulous line work, rendering the acreage in a way that taps into memory, emotion, and the raw beauty of a landscape.

Christina Nguyen Hung’s new media work “tweaks the methodologies of science,” by intervening in the process of sampled data analytics to create a visceral image– in its most literal sense. Gruesome, pinned and piled butterflies or the microscopic view of blood cells containing a message wiped clean in the droplets of hemoglobin “represent how cultural and scientific knowledge systems are inextricably bound.”

Joey Manson’s public sculptures spiral like gears caught in a static still, placed precariously in a natural or open urban space. The industrial materials link the notion of “constructed environment and systems ecology.” The work both buds and vines, as well as pump and churn, like the moving parts of a machine.

Todd McDonald’s painting of cool, deep hues and architectural lines straddle the line between the transience of virtual reality and the tangible in a complex rendition of deep space containing stitched and seamed imagery of penetrable portals, thresholds, and passageways. He examines the ways in which “contemporary visual rhetoric” has changed due to new technologies that open the door to radically complex image construction which effecting the way in which we perceive and shape the ever morphing visual culture of our time. Through painting, McDonald uses a traditional medium to present a captured still of this notion of virtual place in a precise and utopian production that hums like neon in the night.

Kathleen Thum’s drawings personify a network of pipe like lines of mixed media and color that funnel through and snake around clustered earthen forms. These complex and intertwined systems suggest both man-made industry and organic structures; both the functional and dysfunctional; and both the build up of topical layers and the inner workings of the enigmatic “subsurface.”

Denise Woodward Detrich’s ceramic work is an investigation of the “layered knowledge gained through the accumulated knowledge of the utility” of the common inanimates, capable of defining who we are when we intersect with them. Her stout vases and whimsical large spouted teapots of natural rust and cool glazes posses textural references of wood grains, foliage, the aquatic, and thumb prints. These unique layers suggest a personality exposed as if chipped away for the sake of raw honesty of the object’s characterized integrity and history of use.

Anderson Wrangle’s romanticized photography is softly lit and sweetly textured. The natural objects captured teeter, balance, and hang by a thread in a quiet but daring construction of the object’s personification. From the sheen of a dozen icicles to the seasoned grain of wood, every minute detail is given reverence. The “non-utilitarian” narrative represents the relationship between the hand, the mind, the object, and the sincere gesture that makes it all relevant.

Valerie Zimany’s ceramic, biomorphic sculptures drip with saturated, candied color and glint with the fine detailed narrative motifs that reference both American and Japanese historical legacy and contemporary culture. Combining the glazing overlay processes of both heritages; she touches upon issues of power, status, and commoditization in a dynamic, animated, and illustrious assemblage of imagery. Delicate porcelain, bold in iconography, the viewer is unsure of whether, when closely examining the work, to hold their breath in gentle precaution, or shield them as the wildly animated characters threaten to bubble, burst, and explode.

Greg Shelnutt’s featured sculpture in the show, Hand Craft of Guilt, is the product of a Penland School of Crafts summer workshop. The wooden armature ties together Buddhist symbolism of the wheel and the River Ganges reverence for fire. The work, raw in material and set on a pedestal, looks like an artifact that is preserved and set forth for education. Playing upon the icon of the chariot as well as the simplicity of a child’s toy, Shelnutt uses the stripped, carved, and whittled wood to pose new metaphorical weight that references Freudian complexes.

One of the most important elements of a visual arts exhibition is hearing the artists discuss their intellectual pursuits and inspirations motivating their creative research. A talk will be at 2:30pm, Thursday, Mar. 6, with Detrich, Shelnutt and Thum.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or contact Lee Gallery director Denise Woodward-Detrich by e-mail at (visualarts@clemson.edu).


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