“In my work I’m always looking for a balance between the things I love and the things I fear,” so said a revered ceramicist to a room full of aspiring artists.
On Wednesday, Nov. 4 the SUNY New Paltz Student Art Alliance continued their annual Visiting Artists Lecture series with a presentation by the innovative artist Lauren Gallaspy. Prior to Gallaspy, the artists Hilary Greenbaum and Dread Scott came to speak and three more artists will follow in these renowned creators footsteps.
According to ceramics professor Bryan Czibesz each speaker specializes in a different art medium. The Student Art Alliance is a student run organization. At the beginning of each semester, they create a slideshow presentation consisting of a few artists that they would like to see in the lecture series. The “slide slam” is then presented and eight artists are chosen.
“The students set up everything from contacting the artist to organizing the arrangements for the artist once they are in town,” Czisbesze said.
Gallaspy began by introducing herself and her body of work. She received her BFA in ceramics at the University of Georgia and her MFA from Alfred University. Her vivacious work has appeared in numerous galleries, museums and even at international and national conferences. She creates drawings, vessels or pots, and sculptures.
Her slideshow revealed her hauntingly-beautiful masterpieces. Through the succession of a few images she discussed a series that she did about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. According to Gallaspy she could not bear to look at the terrified people so instead she looked at the destitute houses, which eventually took on a life of their own.
This concept of something going from “whole to broken” intrigued her and she put together the sculpture series “Transfiguration.”
The abstract creations convey a sense of utter destruction and they quite literally appear as if Gallaspy violently smashed her artwork in a fit of rage and later tenderly glued every bit back together in an orthodox way.
“In the end I’m just trying to make something beautiful, which is a bit embarrassing to admit,” she said.
As a young girl growing up in the rural south she became inspired by storytelling and myth, which can be seen in not only her artwork but also in her presentation style. Gallaspy spoke eloquently as she seemingly plucked copious amounts of gem stone quotes from thin air. She name dropped literary geniuses such as Emily Dickinson and Annie Dillard and then word-for-word recited lines of prose, poetry and simply wonderfully wise words of wisdom.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Dillard said.
At the end of the event a captivating question and answer session took place as the clearly well versed art students asked thoughtful questions. One student asked Gallaspy what material she uses to produce beautiful smudged illustrations on the surfaces of her various ceramic wonders. Gallaspy immediately retorted that she uses china paint on the surface of the glaze.
Fourth-year graphic design major Dan Wolf was one of the students in the audience and he found Gallaspy’s work to be incredibly intriguing.
“It’s interesting and different than the type of work that I’m used to,” Wolf said.
The Visiting Artists Lecture series will continue for the next few weeks every Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Lecture Center 102.