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Taking Shape - August 2016

Taking Shape
Exhibit dates: August 9–September 4, 2016
Opening reception: Thursday, August 11, 6:30–8:00 pm
Juror: Ellen Durkan, blacksmith and adjunct professor at Delaware College of Art and Design

Click here to download the program.

Kathlyn Avila, "Legends of Zelda."
Monkith Saaid Memorial Sculpture Award for Best in Show

Q&A with juror Ellen Durkan:

What is it like to jury an exhibit digitally, without seeing the work in person?
Jurying digitally can give you the general idea of the piece, but the scale of the piece becomes secondary rather than primary – because you see the piece and then read the scale of it, instead of seeing the piece and being able to walk around it.

What were you looking for in a successful sculpture, three-dimensional piece? 
I look for craftsmanship, mark making, and how the material is handled, as well as what the piece is portraying and how authentic the work appears.

What were the unselected works lacking? 

Works may have not been selected because I felt that they were underdeveloped, either in execution or originality. These artists might need more time creating and developing work in that series. Other works may have been eliminated because they weren’t cohesive with other pieces I selected.

What did you think of the different media? Did you find some stronger or weaker than others?
I love different uses of media. It’s always interesting to see how people transform the materials they work with. I think it’s important for artists to experiment in working with different things, even if that medium isn’t “working” for them. You learn more from the things that “don’t work out” and it generally pushes you into different territory. I think the word “weaker” just means that it needs more work; it’s like if you have a weakness in your physical body – you can work to strengthen it. It’s the same in art.

Is there anything you wish you had seen more of? Less of?

That’s a hard question to answer. When you jury an exhibit, you don’t know what you’re going to get. You look at images until something catches your eye and, yes, that is obviously subjective. From the selected works, you need a common thread to pull the pieces together. 

How does your own work as an artist influence you as a juror?
I understand what it means to create art and try to make a living at it. I also teach at a college. I get the many different and often painful steps it takes to make something halfway decent. Of course I have made really crappy work, but it’s all just a stepping-stone to creating better work. More importantly, you are always gaining different knowledge. I just try to build upon the last piece I create, so I don’t get hung up making one piece “perfect.”  I let each piece be a continuation to something else.

What drew you to the award winners? Can you elaborate on your selections?

The artists have fine-tuned their craft and subject matter in these pieces. I’m a fan of the work speaking for itself.

What do you hope the viewer comes away from this show with?

I think a majority of selected pieces for “Taking Shape” started from a figurative inspiration. For me, I saw of the collection of selected work as an evolution or de-evolution of various figurative states. Not just in terms of external changes, but addressing internal, mechanical changes as well.

What advice do you have for our artists?

Make something or part of something every day. Keep a sketchbook to doodle in. You might surprise yourself. Don’t worry about what it look’s like – just create. When you have a feeling that you should push a piece further but the lazy part of your brain tells you, “it’s fine” – ignore it, and go further. There really isn’t anyone to push you or drive you to create but you. Bottom line: keep creating!

About Ellen Durkan:

I am adjunct professor at Delaware College of Art & Design and I have my own blacksmith business: Iron Maiden Forge. I have all my own tools, I don’t shoe horses, make swords, and my granddad was not a blacksmith. I found metal while I was in college and never though it would be what I ended up doing with my life. I create “forged fashion“ which combines blacksmithing and the fashion world. I’m continually inspired by craftsmanship and new techniques; it pushes the technical level of my work up a notch every time. It’s a challenge balancing my studio, business, and teaching life, but you’ve got to do what inspires you, even if it makes you a little crazy. I continue to show in galleries and the fashion aspect has taken me down the exciting and very different runway/performance side of things. I also have a growing jewelry line to make my work more accessible to the public, because not everyone is in need of a metal corset.

Gallery hours:
Monday–Saturday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am–9:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 noon–6:00 pm

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