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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cast from Spirit and Earth

Nine artists display sculpture and ceramics at Katie Gingrass

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The nine artists in From Heaven to Earth travel from one realm to another, from airy sentiments of spirit to the raw physicality of earth. Ceramics and sculpture bring them together but each operates with an individual voice and presence.

Bennet Bean says “earthenware is at the center of what I do,” but don’t let the term earthenware fool you. His sculptural objects take on heavenly, luminous patinas of gold, shimmering in reflective light. Geometric patterns decorate exteriors, in some places the surface seems almost like watery landscape painting while the richly gilded interiors coyly turn inside out.

Curtis Benzle is deeply engaged with the use of color in his porcelain works, layering tones with a nuanced translucency. Surfaces like nature are recreated in vessels that recall things of organic life but repeated over and over like a mantra. Your eyes skim over the surface of these objects and your fingers will want to as well.

Milwaukee-based sculptor Jeff Raasch takes the literal sensory experiences of nature — things like walking though trees and sun, digging in earth among mushrooms and loam of decay under piles of leaves — as inspiration for his figurative forms. His sculpted bodies are decorated with frolicsome woodland creatures like raccoons, or draped with rivulets of sculptural moss.

Margaret Haydon’s recent work also draws upon nature, but in reference to sturgeon as an ancient and endangered animal. The great fish are displaced from their watery environment, cast about unnaturally upon sticks and vessels, noble creatures thrust into environments not of their own making.

While many of the artists make objects that draw from gossamer, delicate visions, James Aarons is hard-edged and geometric. He is a former dancer and choreographer, and notes that this experience has keenly influenced his sense of line and dynamism. There is precision in his bold forms and their decisive edges, but also the biological mystery of the body as though investigating forms illuminated as visible webs of life.

The array of works in From Heaven to Earth bridge the spiritual and physical, formed from clay and fired into being.

From Heaven to Earth continues at Katie Gingrass Gallery (Marshall Building, 1st Floor, 207 E. Buffalo St.) through June.