Ball State Visiting Artist: Lauren Gallaspy

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Thursday, November 6th and Friday, November 7th the Ball State University School of Art and Ball State University Clay Guild welcomed Lauren Gallaspy as a visiting artist. Lauren Gallaspy is a ceramic artist who is a professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. During her visit she spent both days demonstrating her techniques for students, faculty, and visitors. She makes sculptural work ranging from palm sized to more recently a couple feet in height, as well as vessels such as mugs. The amount of intense detail makes her work appear to be like an explorable landscape in miniaturized form. In order to fully experience her work one might feel as if they need a magnifying glass and some time to sit and take in all that her work holds for the viewer.

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She says that her work is about “imbalance: the vulnerability of living things and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another.” Bringing what is inside the mind, the psychological experiences of the self, to the surface of her artwork is very important to Gallaspy because she sees it as “a kind of devotional or transformational act, a way to render interior spaces and intense psychological experiences physically”

The David Owsley Museum’s Consultative Curator, Davira Taragin, took some time to comment on Lauren Gallaspy’s work.

“Lauren Gallaspy’s porcelain sculptures are unlike anything in the David Owsley Museum’s collection.  Most of its ceramics are vessel-oriented and visually address weight, substance, materiality, and surface decoration.  Gallaspy focuses instead on process—about dripping the clay to create tenuous line. In that respect, her work evokes the canvases of the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock and the Process Art movement of the mid-1960s.  Gallaspy’s ceramics also call to mind sculptures by Peter Voulkos and John Mason during their revolutionary period with clay at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles during the 1950s. Her concern with process is shared by a number of makers today who are experiencing a renaissance of interest in art of the 1960s and 1970s.”

Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock
Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock

As Taragin stated, Lauren Gallaspy’s sculptures are reminiscent of times in art history when the medium as well as the inner emotions of the artist were the driving force in the art. Although Gallaspy’s artwork is very much a product of modern ideas of art, she said in her lecture that one of her biggest inspirations are Mimbres pottery from Mexico, very much like several vessels in the David Owsley Museum collection. She said that she enjoys the line quality in the Mimbres pottery, as well as the surreal images on the pots that show animals and design intertwining to tell a story. The Mimbres pots are only just one of Gallaspy’s inspirations that she mentioned, along with many other contemporary artists and the landscapes that surround her, including the landscape where she grew up, the South, which is defined by the invasive vine, kudzu.Mimbres Potterykudzu

So much can be gained by learning about the artists of our time, because much of what artists make their work about is their inner contemplations of the world brought into physical form for others to see. Be sure to keep up on future visiting artist lectures through the Ball State School of Art as well as check out the new Contemporary Craft Gallery at the David Owsley Museum of Art to see contemporary ceramics displayed on campus. The museum also often has special exhibitions that highlight contemporary artists and their work.

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