By: Ron Schira, Reading Eagle (12.25.16)
The GoggleWorks Center fir the Arts, quietly topping the year off, has installed a pair of separate exhibitions dedicated to the skilled craftsmanship of woodworking and porcelain ceramic. Within the second floor Schmidt Gallery is “Circling Nature,” a large series of at least 60 exquisitively carved wooden animals rendered by woodworker Derek Weidman, while just down the hall in room 240 are the genteel ceramics of Christine Fashion for a show titled “(re)COIL v.” Both displays will be up through Jan. 2.
Weidman fabricates each of his animals on a wood-turning lathe, a difficult tool in the hands of the unskilled, which he had installed along the gallery rear wall for a demonstration and visual impact. Some of the pieces are stained with various colors and in more than a few instances closely resemble the critter they represent.
The sculptor has dedicated the last seven years to exploring lathe-based sculpture. His method involves multi-axis turning, a rarely used shaping process of manipulating the different types of wood he uses, implementing a descriptive visual procedure that can only be done on a lathe.
Weidman asks a basic question, “What would this look like if rendered through the lens of a wood lathe?” His query is answered by dozens of iconic statuettes: birds, mammals of all kinds, owls, hawks, hippos, bears, dragons, a medusa and a large-as-life alligator head. All of these attest to his ability with the lathe and a faultless eye for form and shape.
Many of the pieces are additionally cut into with linear designs and arabesques to accentuate the form, like a totem or an idol of nature. One of an open-mouthed hippo, for instance, is surface embellished with waves, bristles and small fish for a very compelling sculpture.
Fashion is the GoggleWorks’ first artist-in-residence. A native of Pittsburgh, she is a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in ceramics. Following this exhibition, she will join the Penland School of Crafts 2017 Winter Residency Program in Bakersville, N.C. Fashion recently was awarded the 2016 Windgate Fellowship in Ceramic Sculpture.
Her “(re)COIL v.” is an investigation into spiraling shapes that wrap and entwine themselves into tall towerlike structures or spaghetti-ish strands of white porcelain seemingly poured into a knotted pile. Some of the sculptures are very small, like coins, washers or loops, rubber bands modeled in ceramic.
The exhibition is brightly lit with an almost clinical attitude of white walls, white sculptures on thin wall shelves or wooden stands, which the artist made specifically for this project.
One work consists of four wall pieces titled “Square Sets 1-4.” Each set contains four small wooden squares within four larger squares that sit side by side on the wall. The larger ones are painted directly on the wall in a soft gray, while the smaller, about 4 inches each, are adorned with even smaller pieces in ceramic and warm formalist colors.
Another ceramic places a huddle of “Towers” on the floor like white stalagmites climbing upwards from a cavern floor. Still others have a tiny cone of ash or finely crumbled dust next to the smallest works. There should be more information on this exhibition, however. The structures are intriguing but vague.
Two attractive displays to finish out and soothe this problematic year, definitely worth a visit.