March 2-24, 2018
Closing reception: Friday, March 23, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is proud to present the work of four artists graduating from the Master of Fine Arts program in the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University. The exhibiting artists are Rachel Clark, Brian James Culbertson, Katya Harris and Brendan Mims. The show opens on First Friday, March 2 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. There will be a closing reception on Friday, March 23 from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
The exhibition includes a range of materials and aesthetics with artists representing three studio areas in the School of Art and Design: Rachel Clark and Brendan Mims, ceramics, Brian James Culbertson, photography and Katya Harris, painting and drawing.
Rachel Clark began her college studies in natural science before switching her major to ceramics. She obtained her BFA in ceramics at Tennessee Technological University's Appalachian Center for Craft. Post graduation, she worked as a studio potter under Susan DeMay, professional artist and ceramics instructor at Vanderbilt University. After moving to Eastern North Carolina, she worked as the gallery preparator for The Imperial Center for the Arts and Sciences and represented the arts and music planning on the First Friday planning board for the city of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Rachel's work has been featured in venues including Strictly Functional Pottery National, the North Carolina Pottery Center, Dog's Eye Gallery, and Emerge Gallery and has been published in Ceramics Monthly.
In her artist's statement Rachel explains the genesis of her thesis work, "While cleaning, I stumbled across a container of clay I had collected from my grandparents property as a child. It was unnerving to realize that, while I knew where the clay had come from, I had no actual memory of collecting it. As my loved ones age, I am confronted by the unsettling fact of both their, and my, memory loss.
I believe that the lens through which we explore loss becomes an important tool in the articulation of narrative. My experience growing up on grandparents property on the edge of the Allegheny wilderness played an important role in shaping who I am today, fostering a personally important connection to landscape. I am attempting to find meaning in my loss of place through the exploration of my relationship to place and the interweaving degradation of place and memory.
I collected clay and glaze material from their property. This raw material is processed into a clay body, a colorant, and a glaze and formed into objects with specific uses made to act as a trigger for a memory linked to the object. Material, intended use, form, and imagery coalesce to act as a trigger a memory of a precise instant in time.
Things that we we integrate into our everyday lives become a synergist for memory triggered by use of the object. By creating an object that holds a specific purpose, is created with material from a specific location and contains imagery of that place, I create an object that acts as a memory catalyst and, while not celebrating loss, finds beauty and meaning in loss. Ultimately, I am finding agency in the preservation of my memory and the re-articulation of my narrative."
Brian Culbertson currently lives in Greenville, North Carolina where he is a candidate for MFA at East Carolina University School of Art and Design. His research is focused on the prevalence of prescription medications in contemporary treatment of mental illness and, photography's role in the representation of those living with mental illness. He creates portraits using historic photographic processes. His most recent work incorporates medications used to treat anxiety into the salted paper print process.
The title of Brian's exhibit is Adverse. In describing his work, he states "The role of the photograph in the conversation of mental illness is fraught with misrepresentation. Since its infancy the photographic image has been used as a means of portraying those living with mental illness as frail, or violent. My photographs question this history and, the use of prescription medications in contemporary treatment of mental illness without considering the physical and chemical makeup of the individual being treated. The incorporation of medications used to alter the chemistry of the mind into the salted paper print process produces images that are unsettling and, in some cases, unstable. They exist as secondhand accounts of what mental instability and adverse reactions to medication might look like."
Katya Harris is an MFA candidate in the Painting and Drawing area at East Carolina University School of Art and Design. She received her B.A. in Art and Psychology at Elmira College in Elmira, New York. Harris's interdisciplinary work is inspired by identity representation in visual culture and identity politics.
Katya's thesis exhibition, Fracture: Representing Identity, investigates the element of fracture as a unifying component that brings together different types of people and bodies into cohesive wholes. In response to stereotypical imagery of people in mass media, Harris aims to create images that more accurately consider the complexities of individual identity by acknowledging relationships, and personal and collective histories.
Brendan W. Mims began making art when he attended the Fine Art Center of Greenville, SC. Upon graduating he found work acquiring many more skills until pursuing a Bachelor's degree at Tennessee Tech's Appalachian Center of Craft. There he studied metal working, glass blowing, wood working, and majoring in Ceramics. He is now completing his MFA in Ceramics from East Carolina University, while working to understand the mysteries of the human conditions.
Discussing his thesis work, Brendan says, "Since I was very young I have been questioning and assessing my reality and the world around me. Our understanding of reality is created by one's perceptions of cause and effect. We use the perceptions to predict the effect of a given cause, and we use sciences such as biology, phycology, quantum physics, and chaos with ideas like philosophy, theology, and autonomy to make sense of the mechanisms that shape our existence. It is my belief the understandings of our reality can create false expectations. I designed and constructed Against a Sea of Troubles as an experience of a single player version of a game which traditionally takes two. It is through a lens of my past and my considerations of the present I approach my work. As a means of illustrating the unforeseen cause and effect of decisions and the ability to understand the outcomes. By placing my game within the gallery, and therefore the fine art setting, I am challenging our perceptions of acceptable interactions with art, and the value systems we assign it. As viewers experience the effects of their decision to interact with my work on either a visual level or physical level they will in-turn choose their own methods of reaction to either the work or the outcome of their choice. I invite the viewer to question their reality and their understanding the effects of their own choices."
The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located off of 5th and Jarvis Streets on the campus of East Carolina University in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The gallery is closed for all university holidays.
Jenkins Fine Arts Center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department of Disability Support Services at least two weeks prior to the event (252) 737-1016.
For more information, please contact Tom Braswell, Interim Gallery Director, at (252) 328-6336.