On April 9th, 2017, I attended the Core Sample: Additional Findings exhibition at Alfred University. This exhibition is an extension of the Core Sample workshop, which was a sample of the over 8,000 works and individual donations from the much larger workshop, Core, that was held in December of 2016. This exhibition, still being centered around mostly ceramics, seems to present different, larger sculptures that express or replicate clear art movements throughout history, as well as possible messages.
Most of the sculptures in the exhibition intrigued me, even if it was only in the smallest amount, however, a few of the sculptures stood out to me more-so than all of the other works. The first of the of the bunch that caught my eye was Big Shoes to Fill, by Tony Hepburn. This sculpture was made in 1987 and is a mix of clay and wood that takes the form of large damaged shoes with some kind of blunt object resembling a tool, or at least something of that nature; however, that is just my perception of it. The second sculpture that I was interested in was made by Phillip Maberry in 1987: Venus on a Half Shell. This sculpture embodies what its title suggests. It is a ceramic rendition – about average adult human size – based on Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting from the late 1400s.
Both of these sculptures seem to reflect art forms and movements that have historical meaning and influence, especially with Venus on a Half Shell, which is Maberry’s rendition of one of Botticelli’s most notorious paintings. This sculpture reflects the 16th century art of the Greeks with its somewhat contrapposto stance, slightly less exaggerated than Botticelli’s painting. As for Hepburn’s Big Shoes to Fill, the meaning may or may not be interpreted in similar fashions from viewer to viewer. The message that I perceived is that of something possibly political or social, as it makes me think of the struggles of a working class individual and the responsibilities that they encounter throughout the majority of their lives. This sculpture somewhat reflects social realism as a result of the way I interpreted the piece. It has, as I stated, a possible political and social atmosphere to it. It almost presents the feeling of the 1920s and 30s when the great depression was in effect and people struggled to survive and work from day to day. As the title suggests, they had big shoes to fill; they had many responsibilities forced upon them by the, at that time, current society.