Saturday, July 6, 2013

MFA in Visual Arts Graduate Exhibition, June 2013

Beautifully Grotesque is the title of my thesis and final body of work presented in the Art Institute of Boston Main Gallery on 700 Beacon Street. The fifth residency flew by, culminating in the graduation ceremony and gallery reception on June 29th. Aaron Lish created a blog for our class During the eleven day stretch, I presented an artist power point talk, defended my thesis, attended two seminars, gave critiques to current MFA students, and hung the work.

Our MFA graduate exhibitions in Boston and Cambridge were reviewed by Shawn Hill on June 26th in Big, Red, and Shiny: Thesis Show Round-Up #6: Art Institute of Boston MFA. Shawn wrote:

Fitz Gibbon's shapes are, by contrast, playful, abstract and weird. Her pottery skills are evident in the carefully drooping, folded, sagging and bulbous shapes, but most of all in her lush glazes of green, pink and turquoise. However, she's more interested in twisting and transforming her works so that they offer unusual surprises. Whether hanging pendulous from the ceiling or flopping over hooks and shelves, these oddly swelling sacks use Astro-turf, piano wire and mirrors to create hidden areas of incident and unusual bursts of texture and shape. They're somewhere between flora and fauna, alien creations giving birth to themselves.

Five of my pieces were presented. The show came down on June 30th. Two sculptures were shipped to The Clay Studio in Philadelphia for a juried graduate exhibition and the remaining work are on their way home to California.

Monday, May 27, 2013

In the Details

In the last meeting with mentor Lucy Puls, we dove into the importance of details. I was reminded of my tendency to pile things on when less can be more. On Doppelgänger II, I removed the fish net stocking, reduced the amount of tubing connecting the head with the body, and added a rubber grommet to tighten the fit of the tubing to the body. I inserted brass ball chain into the tubing, extending the length with the silver chain below. Lucy also suggested I add batting to the pillow so the bumps from the "beans" infill wouldn't be felt. She advised me to work the fabric. I purchased a black faux suede and tried applying powdered graphite and iron paint to the surface but didn't think it helped. Ultimately I believe the upholstery grey velvet gives the best effect. As it turns out, the batting smooths out the pillow but causes the ceramic to slide down; the parts don't sink in as well. The pillow doesn't cling to the mesh frame and also shifts. I will try a thinner batting and hope for a compromise!

In addition, the tops of the pedestals from last semester's work have all been refined – slimmed down to lessen the visual weight. Knuckle Ball and Vagabond have single layered wooden tops. Slither's top ring was cut in half. I added artificial grass to the base of Bobble Head which I think grounds it on its own turf. Previously it had only been on the inside parts.

Knuckle Ball



Bobble Head

I'll have to wait to have Doppelgänger I properly photographed in Boston. This is the best I can do right now where it is hanging in Devin's garage. For the graduate exhibition at AIB, I expect to ship five pieces: Knuckle Ball, Slither, both Doppelgäners I and II, and Mirage.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Salmon Run

I feel pulled by a strange strong current towards home, or in this case, graduation. There is very little time left. The work is just about finished. I still have to dive into the artist talk power point and update my website. Here is the progress on the last piece, "Doppelganger II."

the welded bed frame before blackened
a view of the mesh

(photographed on tile floor) Doppelgänger II. Ceramic, plastic tubing, plastic netting, ball chain, artificial turf, fabric pillow, steel. 32" x 20" x 26"   

detail of netting

detail of tubing and artificial grass

detail showing tubing and ball chain

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Finish Line

My thesis, "Beautifully Grotesque," is awaiting my advisor's final comments. Time is beginning to open up with teaching obligations ending soon. I'm working to make some refinements in the wood/steel pedestals from last semester. The ceramic firings are complete on the two new works. I've sent out a sketch to get bids on the bed frame for the reclining piece, Doppelgänger. I'm currently working out issues for the hanging piece – no a name yet.

Since I'm told work can't hang from the ceiling, I've devised a way to hang it from a pipe straddling the corner. Luckily, Devin Hough is still willing to let me use his garage; there isn't a open square inch of wall (or corner) in my studio. He is holding the cable which will probably be attached to a hook on the wall. He has offered the most steadfast support during this program. I couldn't have gotten this far without him! More thanks will follow later.

For some unknown reason, I am not able to adequately photograph the color in these new works: it looks washed out. There are three ball chains dripping from the ceramic to the floor. I expect the pipe to be several feet higher when displayed in the gallery at AIB.

Yesterday, I saw a thought provoking exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum called "Silence" based on John Cage's 4'33." Then I attended a truly inspiring artist talk by Ann Weber at the Berkeley Art Center. She had started as a potter and only found the medium of cardboard at the end of grad school at CCAC. Even though our work is very different, we share many of the same influences such as the drapery in Baroque sculpture and shapes from nature. I've been following her work for years. She wasn't able to be a mentor for my MFA program but I do hope to have a dialogue in the future. It was the perfect model of a artist presentation and gives me much to emulate for my talk in June.

1/2" galvanized pipe is 6 ft. long.

This hook over the pipe looked too big and shiny.

Ball chains dribble onto the floor.

this hook works better

The ceramic will hang approx. 3 ft. from the floor and hopefully at least 5 ft. from the pipe.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mid term of my last semester!

Here it is March already and graduation is looming. Two drafts of my thesis entitled "Beautifully Grotesque" have been submitted and two sculptures are in the works. Yesterday I met for the second time with mentor Lucy Puls. Input from our first meeting led me to build a piece for mounting on a pillow. It was a solution to lifting the work off the floor while referencing reclining nudes. I was also subsequently influenced by this image of a sleeping Eros reproduced in the NY Times from a review of an exhibition at the MET.
Sleeping Eros, bronze from 2nd or 3rd century B.C.

Here are a couple of images from the first glaze firing. The work is already back in the kiln for another round of color. Since I've completely run out of room in both my studio and house, these were photographed outside in strong sunlight. The bed form was constructed from thick styrofoam which is topped with a pillow that I sewed and stuffed with bean chair pellets. The cushion fabric has yet to be cut and shaped.


Next I constructed a piece to be suspended by a cable or chord from the ceiling. It is also in two parts that will be joined after the firing is complete. These images are pretty poor; I hope to have ones that better represent the color and form soon.
These are like drips or udders that will hang down from the piece pictured above.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To Boston and beyond...

I've been researching and gathering packing materials for shipping work to AIB. It is hard to believe that the work has to be boxed to leave next Friday, 12/21 in order to arrive on Jan. 2! It has taken at least two trips to each of three suppliers including in the towns of Elk Grove and Woodland to get the appropriate sized boxes. There will be 8 outer boxes total. Everything will be double boxed except for the four largest ones for the pedestals: 40" x 20"x 20" each. These have to be cut to size along with 1" honeycomb cardboard inserts to strengthen the walls. I'm in the process of getting shipping quotes from four sources. The most economical is ground freight if bundled on a pallet. It looks to cost $400-500 each way, not including insurance. I've already spent $300 on boxes.

My exhibition at American River College comes down this Monday. I'll be heading to southern CA over the weekend to see the Ken Price show at LACMA and to visit ailing family.

These loose sketches show thoughts for future work. In one, a chrysalis ceramic form is to hang on a metal cable from a wall hook. There is a companion ceramic piece positioned below like a wax puddle. The other piece is a ceramic body form with steel base. Rough holes are to be burned through the steel to show the upper ceramic nestled in and hanging through the center. Both pieces will likely have some mixed media: pins, mirror, fabric or turf. I may also incorporate fine metal mesh and wax.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finished and photographed

Chicken or the Egg, 14"l x 14"w x 16.5"h

Final photos of work after polishing steel, changing out artificial grass for longer turf, and adding extra ceramic and wire elements.
Bobble Head, back



Bobble Head

Knuckle Ball, detail back

Knuckle Ball, detail inside

Knuckle Ball
Mirage, detail 1

Mirage, detail 2

Mirage, side

Slither, back

Slither, detail


Vagabond, detail

Vagabond, side