Victimhood, family, growth and decay subjects in new dual art showBy Sam West | 11/10/2016 10:19am
Ashlyn Pope's pottery reflects the wide array of emotions she feels on a daily basis. CW / Jake Stevens
The Gullah low country in South Carolina, the streets of Atlanta and a small town in Israel are all memories reflected in the art of a new art show at Sella-Granata gallery.
Ashlyn Pope's "Conversations" and Christopher Staley's "Coming and Going" are two bodies of work being displayed together in a joint exhibition. The pieces have different focuses but both are collections of sculpture and ceramics. The double show will run until Nov. 22.
Pope's portion of the show is made up of pottery and fabric prints, which she said are influenced by the narrative traditions of the African-American community. The artist grew up in New Jersey, but her grandmother was from the Gullah backcountry, a region in South Carolina heavily populated by former slaves with unique culture and traditions.
"The sewing I got from school, but the quilting I got from my grandmother," Pope said.
Pottery captured Pope's attention when she was in college. The artist is a survivor of sexual abuse and uses the stories in her sculpture as catharsis that both herself and the viewer can experience. She said her work conveys the wide range of emotions she feels in her day-to-day life as a survivor.
"As a normal human being, we go through all these same things, but as a victim of abuse it's intensified," Pope said.
In addition to her gallery work, Pope currently teaches art at a small non-profit in Atlanta.
In contrast to the specific narratives of "Conversations," Christopher Staley's portion of the exhibit deals with the abstract concepts of materiality, growth and decay.
"It's sort of a comment on where things come from, and also the cycles of life and death," Staley said.
Staley had an unusual journey to his current professorship at Pennsylvania State. After his undergraduate education, he was rejected from every MFA program he applied to. The artist then did a fellowship with a teacher in Kansas, created a new body of work, re-applied to the same slate of graduate schools, and got in every single one.
This experience drove him toward education, because it taught him how much difference a good teacher can make. Since then, Staley has served as a teacher in a variety of schools, including spending time working with students in Israel.
On Nov. 10, Staley will be visiting the University of Alabama. He will give two demonstrations in the Ceramics Workshop in Bureau of Mines Room No. 5 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 3:45 to 5:15 p.m. Later, he will give a lecture titled "Why Art Matters: A Potter's Search for Meaning" in Rast Room A of the Bryant Conference Center at 7 p.m.