Graduate artists present work in campus exhibt

Graduate artists present work in campus exhibt

By Christina Ausley | Staff Reporter 

At seven years old, a young Amy Smoot pieced together scraps of fabric and spare buttons, proudly presenting her grandmother with a makeshift sock monkey. Now, as a second-year graduate student, she prepares to present her work at the master of arts exhibition, though ceramics will replace her childhood creations.

The department of Art and Art History will showcase graduate students Amy Smoot and John Klosterman Feb. 8-22, in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery. The public is welcome to attend a formal reception Thursday, Feb. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.

“I wouldn't say I was naturally gifted, but I would mess around with whatever arts and crafts my grandmother would give me,” Smoot said. “I'd make sock monkeys and would sew a lot, but I would say my passion seriously began once I took my first ceramics class in undergrad. It was the first time I found myself in the studio more than anywhere else.”

Smoot received the BFA in ceramics from the University of West Georgia, and was one of three artists selected for a program called Air Air in 2017, where she created art in a somewhat unusual studio setting – an airplane. 

She currently serves as president of Crimson Clay, a student organization that brings together ceramics fanatics, and has had the opportunity to educate and inspire other artists through a variety of teaching opportunities and workshops.

Smoot now explores in her art what she describes as “insignificant moments of discomfort,” which may “implode in a moment’s notice” throughout our lives. 

“Most of my work deals with personal experiences that I go through, or others that I know go through,” Smoot said. “This particular show is about the build up of daily, sometimes minimal, insecurities. I'm interested in the power they can hold and the influence they can have over how we move through the world.”

In this particular exhibition, Smoot looks forward to how others may react or relate to her work. This is a concept which has permeated all of her artistic endeavors, but even more so, her life and the lives around her. 

“In the show, the buildup of self-doubt exposes itself in each figure, leaving them vulnerable in front of the viewer," Smoot said. "This is my way of realizing I am not alone in how I feel. I believe there is something very relatable about being unsure of yourself. I see it every day on social media and how others deal with it. I think this is my way of dealing with my own insecurities.”

Smoot has just one year remaining in graduate school following this spring semester, so she will work towards her MFA exit show, to be held next spring. After leaving UA, she hopes to attend workshops and residencies to further her work and meet other artists. 

John Klosterman, on the other hand, specializes in printmaking, and holds an assistantship in studio art. 

Klosterman, a Daphne, Alabama, native, received his BFA from the University of South Alabama in 2015 after majoring in printmaking and minoring in interdisciplinary studies. In addition to an engaging academic career, much of his work encompasses his relationships along the way.

“The varying use of rope or knots are metaphors for my relationships,” Klosterman said. “The rope, much like family, can be strained or broken. On the other hand, rope can also be taken care of and used to tie a knot that cannot be undone. I aim to interpret the relationships I have had with these different figures or issues by use of the rope.”

As a child, he developed a passion for machines and tinkering with them. This passion has now influenced his ink-to-paper process.

“Instead of the turn of a wrench, it is now the carving of a block with a gauge,” Klosterman said. “Layers of each print, much like parts of a car, are assembled in a manner that creates a functioning vehicle for the message of each piece." 

Though Klosterman said he wasn’t always the “passionate, artistic type,” he thanks his grandparents for their encouragement to embrace art.

“I grew up working on old cars, repairing boats and tinkering on engines with my grandfather – he meant a lot to who I became,” Klosterman said. “My grandmother was the one who pushed my artistic ability and skill. She used to say that idle hands are the devil's workshop.”

Both Smoot and Klosterman are looking forward to the exhibition after months to years of practice and patience. 

“I think being fortunate enough to work with so many amazing visiting artists in the printmaking shop has been invaluable to my development,” Klosterman said. “The University does a really great job bringing in relevant and talented artists for us to talk to about our work and show us different methods that we wouldn’t know about otherwise.”

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