Schumacher Gallery assembles intriguing exhibit

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 Messenger photos by John Matuszak

Casey Bradley displays his "Sycamore Reconstructed" sculpture, part of the Schumacher Gallery’s latest exhibition, "Some Assembly Required," open now through Dec. 7. The artists use natural and man-made materials in their works. Below is his sculpture “Animus.”

 
 
 Molly Burke’s "Float" installation creates the delicate effect of falling seeds with hand-made paper and blown glass.

Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery has decided to do something "off the wall" for its latest exhibition, "Some Assembly Required."

In contrast to its previous exhibition of landscape paintings, "Some Assembly Required" features mostly three-dimensional artwork, Director Cassandra Tellier explained.

With the simple direction to present work made of assembled pieces, the artists   have provided an exhibition of wide-ranging effects, from the industrial to the organic to the ethereal.

Assembled works with found materials became popular in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, according to Tellier, with artists such as Picasso and Duchamp delving into the medium.

Duchamp went as far as preserving dust that accumulated on his sculptures while being transported.

But to appreciate the true origins of such works, artists should look back to the ancient Indian mounds, Tellier suggested.

Several of the artists do reach back into nature and indigenous cultures for their inspirations.

Casey Bradley calls himself "nature’s mortician, caring for and preparing her corporeal bodies for a wake."

Bradley, director of the three-dimensional studio at the Columbus College of Art and Design, uses wood, beeswax and bark, painstakingly arranged, as well as steel and bronze, in sculptures such as "Sycamore Reconstructed."

The artist roams the woods looking for pieces that will potentially become part of his sculptures, but the walks usually last about five minutes before he is on the ground collecting materials.

Stored in boxes or strewn about his studio, they may languish for months before "they speak to me" and are employed in a new work, he said.

Such works as Bradley’s "Animus" have a "totemic" quality, Tellier noted, an observation that the artist strongly endorses.

He looks for "materials with a history," whether it’s a log, a board or a railroad tie with a weathered surface "that shows what it’s been through."

Then he employs his own methods to bring these features into high relief. A closer look at the structures reveals intricate carvings that duplicate the effects of decay, both natural and man-made.

The natural materials have ties to our own bodies, he observes in his artist’s statement, "with bone, flesh and blood of their own."

The substances that bind together some of his pieces have a sinewy quality.

Bradley confesses to a sense of desperation when viewing the environment, and his art is an attempt at preservation.

The fate of humanity and the natural world are as inextricably bound as the elements of his sculptures, Bradley believes.

"With its exploitation and and abuse, we darken our future," he warns. "In caring for the natural world, we also care for ourselves."

Molly Burke presents another view of nature with her "Float" installation, an interpretation of seeds suspended on the breeze, using hand-made paper, blown glass and plexiglass.

Instead of weeds waiting to take root, Burke wants her audience to see the seeds as something "graceful and delicate."

Instead of nature, Carol Boram-Hays finds her inspiration in "the crumbling post-industrial landscape" of eastern Ohio with her pieces molded from concrete and metal.

Like Bradley’s wooden pieces, Boram-Hays, who exhibited in the Schumacher’s "Unseen City" in 2005, perceives a wearing away of the industrial landscape, as well as its damaging effects on the population.

In addition to her typically large-scale work, "Syncopation," Boram-Hays has included a smaller piece, "Reeds."

The only two-dimensional works in "Some Assembly Required" come from Gordon Lee, a frequent contributor to Schumacher exhibitions.

His mixed media collages speak to "urban legends" found in such mundane objects as a gas meter, Lee elucidates, that "bear witness to how people try to assemble and build their sanctuaries to protect themselves and their loved ones."

A sense of humor is not lacking in the show, as found in Bruce Robinson’s "Migrant I" remote control robot (which will work the crowd during the opening) and other constructions using headphones and transistor radios that serve as metaphors for the world of mass communication.

The themes come full circle in Melinda Kay Rosenberg’s "Mandela" series, replicating the placing of a round object within a square as found in Native American sand paintings and Tibetan Buddhist paintings.

Rosenberg uses "materials that have substance and history," such as wood from decayed or burned buildings, "seeking a presence that is both meditative and physical."

The Schumacher Gallery, which includes an extensive permanent collection of European, American, Asian, African and Inuit art, is located on the fourth floor of the Blackmore Library. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m., during the school year. Admission is free.

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