David Clemons and Maria Hall are two featured artists whose sculptural installations will be seen in a new exhibition at the Leedell Moorehead-Graham Gallery of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Leedell Moorehead-Graham Gallery of the Hathaway Howard Fine Arts Center, where the artists will give a brief talk. The show will be on view until May 4.
Clemons, who was born in El Paso, Texas, currently resides in Little Rock and serves on the faculty at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His metal sculptures, fabricated in silver, explore the theme of race, and the issue of black identity figures prominently in many of his works.
In an arrangement entitled “Band Aid, Box No.1,” Clemons mocks the notion of skin color as a test for social acceptability. Made up of a compact silver kit containing black and brown makeup, a silver box, a rubber stamp and a white paper napkin, the display is disturbing as it is revealing. Stamped in bold type and in a shade of brown is the word “APPROVED,” which glares in stark contrast to the white background it is imprinted on.
“Most of this work comes from my own experience,” Clemons said. “I’ve always had to contend with the struggle of being black enough.”
Yet the power of Clemons’ work goes beyond the personal to the collective.
“Remembrance Rosary,” is one such work. For the series, “I sent out a request to friends to send me the most memorable remembrances of their life when they were identified as a black person,” with each event inscribed with the dates and phone numbers on the rosary and placed on a leather-bound book with corresponding information.
Hall, who is originally from Sweden, has made her home in the United States and currently heads the Furniture Design Department at UALR.
Influenced by the work of internationally renowned furniture maker Wendy Maruyama, Hall’s art turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Beautifully crafted furniture are paired with her figural installations, and they are more than utilitarian. Like Clemons’, Hall’s work comes from her personal experiences. These are sometimes painful and at other times celebratory. Whether the subject is divorce, marriage or motherhood, Hall’s conceptual work is meant to “evoke questions of gender, social and cultural issues.”
Women, in particular, will relate to Hall’s installations on multiple levels. In works such as “Domestic Expections-The Mother,” or “Over the Years my Drawers Grew Bigger,” Hall draws on aspects of “body image, weight issues, sexuality, obsessive shopping,” as the basis of a common and shared experience among women of her generation.
Both artists bring superb craftsmanship to this must-see exhibition, a spokesman said.
Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call the UAPB Art Department at 870-575-8236.