Contemporary figurative ceramic pieces focus of MTSU exhibit

The Todd Gallery at MTSU will present “Of the Body,” an exhibition of contemporary figurative ceramic works from five artists of national recognition Oct. 15 through Nov. 2.

 “The works to be seen in ‘Of the Body’ represent five unique perspectives that derive from the artists’ personal experiences and interpretations of the human presence in the contemporary world. Within these interpretations five manifestations occur,”
said Lon Nuell, MTSU art professor and gallery curator.

The artists whose work will be showcased are Tom Bartel, an associate professor of ceramics at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green; Jason Briggs, an adjunct instructor at Belmont University, Nashville; John Donovan, foundations instructor at MTSU, Murfreesboro; Debbie Kupinsky, a part-time ceramics instructor at Santa Ana College, Santa Ana, Calif.; and Malcolm Mobutu-Smith, an associate professor of ceramic art at Indiana University, Bloomington. 

Regarding Bartel, Nuell said he produces stylized figures that “question various stages of life, which are determined primarily by the biological development of the body from birth to death.” Artist Briggs, meanwhile, “pushes palpable sensibilities toward a critical awareness of unease by creating biomorphic forms that are at once sensually tactile and disquietingly beautiful.”

According to materials describing the respective artists’ creations, Donovan’s artworks “infuse his figurative based work with a push/pull sense of play between the innocence of childhood and the ‘relentless fear’ of growing up” and Kupinsky’s pieces focus on allegorical references of the body filtered through mythologies and fairytales manifesting work that juxtaposes “the beauty and innocence in the world with the inevitable loss of innocence.”

“Her works recall benign porcelain figurines pushed to grotesque ends,” Nuell remarked.

The Mobutu-Smith works, in turn, are described as “powerful vessel forms that fuse the residues of being human” such as graffiti, comic-book art and music.

“Mobutu-Smith synthesizes these and other sources to produce works that speak toward his own creative experiences and heritage,” Nuell noted.

An opening reception for the artists will be held 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Oct. 16, in the gallery. Located on the first floor of MTSU’s Todd Building, the Todd Gallery is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Admission is free and the exhibit is open to the public.

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