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"Suspension" by Catherine Carter
Courtesy of Liz Dresser

By Sara Silvestro

Arts & Features Editor

Several art department faculty members exhibited their personal artwork in the show “Actions/Reactions” through the month of September.

Standing at a distance, viewers perceived sets of black and white images to appear as tangled cable or rope. These images were created by Catherine Carter, an art professor at FSU. At a closer look, the images possess a strong contrast in original tones. Systematic yet cautious brushstrokes appear layered in water-based acrylic.

On the surface it may appear as tangled rope, but there is a deeper purpose. According to Carter, this tangled rope serves as a visual description of energy over time.

“Suspense” is a set of monochromatic images drawn with an array of textured lines and loops that gather at the top of a canvas and dangle dangerously with one line plummeting into a nest of energy.

“When I make those lines and loops, I am really just recording energy,” said Carter. “It is all a matter of the way you see that line and the emotion it brings out.”

Carter often uses strong colors for the backgrounds of her paintings. She has painted this style of lines since graduate school. However, this time, Carter chose to be more “playful” and to just see what would happen. Carter said that her artwork is simply black and white, which made the paintings more “elusive.”

“Shorthand,” a set of nine images that correspond with each other, interprets raw and conflicted emotions. On the canvas, the darker areas of the image recede into the background, bringing the viewer’s eyes into the canvas. Each line and every stroke leads the eyes craving what’s next. Carter said that it is this quality that makes the work finished.

“Until you connected with an audience, you are not really done,” said Carter.

Although she was teaching and working, Carter was able to complete her collection in two to three weeks. It only took one night lying in bed for Carter to visualize the final product, she said.

Reflecting on her collection, she said there is nothing that she would want to change.

“It is a record of where I was at that time and the progress I was making,” said Carter.

Moving through the gallery, sculptures were displayed on the floor as well as suspended from the ceiling as in a distorted and colorful wonderland.

Caitlin Nesbit, another art professor at FSU, displayed textured sculptures with a signature detail consisting of an altered spiral form on a hemispherical or cylinder-like body.

The defect on the spiral forms is intentional, according to Nesbit, and is created through a specific pottery technique called “throwing off the hump.” The rest of the sculptures are hand built.

“Microcosmic Hemisphere No. 6” is in the shape of a hemisphere with an inner bowl filled with spiral forms, layers of textured clay and slathers of blue, green and purple.

On the outer hemisphere are blue lines representing currents. The edges of the spirals and inner form are mutated and manipulated to create distortion. Nesbit said that texture is a huge component of the work.

Nesbit’s series was inspired by water, and her sculptures represent a cycle that humans interact with and alter.

“Water is such an important component to my message and that is why I used clay,” said Nesbit. “Clay needs moisture, but it needs to be balanced, because if the clay is too dry it won’t meet well.”

“Hydrothermal Habitat” is a warped cylinder-shaped sculpture that was suspended from the ceiling on which spiral forms were attached. This sculpture had a natural clay color, but with a smoky gray. This gray is a natural glaze from being wood fired in the kiln.

Nesbit used three cords of wood, enough to heat up a house during the winter, for her sculptures. The wood was used from trees downed by a storm.

The risk at hand in firing the piece this way is that ash lands on the sculpture, melts and creates a new form and color.

“It’s letting go of control when your artwork goes into the kiln,” said Nesbit.

“Fire becomes a river, and the flame needs to find a way around the artwork to reach the chimney,” Nesbit added. “It flows around the piece in the kiln, like water. It is all connected.”

Along the walls, representational paintings left the viewer with nostalgia for childhood adventures undertaken during different seasons. From a distance, the paintings appeared to be large photographs. Art Professor Carol O’Maila captures time in her paintings.

“Far and Away,” a side portrait of a boy sitting on a platform in a lake and looking off to the distance on a sunny day, appeals to the viewer’s memories of summer. According to O’Maila, that boy will always be frozen at that age in the portrait.

However, the boy is not the main point of the portrait, which is memory and capturing time.

“The specifics of the people aren’t as important. That is why all the portraits of people are facing away or have a side profile,” said O’Maila. “Instead, it is about one’s childhood and the idea of summer.”

“Shake Against the Cold” holds secrets of long winter walks and cross-country skiing. The sun shines through the branches, shifting the shadows upon the snow. From a distance, the scene appears to be similar to a photograph taken right from a person’s very own memory.

“Life moves on so fast – by stopping a moment in time, we can recreate the sense of peace and bittersweet memories,” said O’Maila.

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