Saratoga Springs

On Exhibit: ‘Thee Architects’ at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center

Works by Isaac Scott at the Schacht Gallery at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center.

Works by Isaac Scott at the Schacht Gallery at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center.

On the way to the Schacht Gallery at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center, one may meander past artists sculpting new works or putting the finishing touches on in the Center’s glazing room.

It’s the perfect introduction to “Thee Architects,” an exhibit on view at the gallery. Curated by Gerald A. Brown, it features ceramic works that examine the metaphysical impacts that architecture has on its residents.

“Architecture has a heavy responsibility of constructing and shaping society,” Brown writes in a statement, citing prisons, temporary burial plots and family portraits as pillars of architecture that uphold or shift cultural ideologies.

Each of the seven artists featured in the exhibit, uses ceramics, among other mixed media materials to depict and analyze different structures that have impacted them.
“Commenting on the public architects that shape civilization, these artists also play active roles as architects themselves, constructing complex and imaginative visions for their environment,” Brown writes.

Among the most striking in the exhibit are two busts from Rodrigo Lara’s “Ephemeral Memorials” series. Using the same materials found in Mexican cemeteries’ tombs, Lara sculpted eerie heads of historical figures and then distorted their expressions with misshapen smiley faces. Each sits atop tomb-like structures made of stone with plastic greenery on top.

“When considering the human figure and its relationship to memorialization, immediate thoughts of bronze statues at historical sites come to mind,” Lara wrote in an artist statement.

“My fascination, however, is in the way that memory – with its inherent, ever-changing fluidity – disrupts our ability to fully or truthfully freeze, or memorialize people or perspectives in history.”

Another standout is a series of three columns from Isaac Scott, each set atop a pedestal of bricks. They reflect varying forms of decay; one features cracked bricks, and another features loose screws coming out of woodgrain structures. The tops of each column also seem to be falling apart. According to Scott’s artist statement, the pieces are inspired by the beauty and decay seen in the neighborhoods around North Philadelphia, where the artist resides.

At the heart of the exhibit are colorful and multi-layered works by Eugene Ofori Agyei. The artist uses ceramics as the base structure and builds upon it, using Batik fabric, yarn and other materials in a collage-like fashion, with each layer reflecting on the artist’s identity as well as on the history of the materials themselves.

Not too far away, artist Paul Briggs presents two pinch pot vases that catch the eye thanks to the leaf-like structures surrounding them. The small leaves lend movement to the vases, making them seem like pieces that might be found underwater on a coral reef.

“Thee Architects,” which opened earlier this month, is well worth a trip to the arts center. It will be on view through July 16. The Saratoga Clay Arts Center is located at 167 Hayes Rd., Schuylerville. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment.

Categories: Art, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs

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