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Artist Melissa Vogley Woods combines architectural, human images in works |

Artist Melissa Vogley Woods combines architectural, human images in works

Artist Melissa Vogley Woods is a Columbus native and resident, but for the past 18 months, her mind has been in ancient Greece and Rome.


Woods, who has art degrees from the Kansas City Art Institute and Ohio State University, found herself drawn to classical forms, shapes and styles.

Her recent paintings feature imposing arches and fleeting glimpses of figures who resemble combatants in ancient Greek wrestling, while a series of sculptures were created using a technique called scagliola, which makes use of plaster in a way that calls marble to mind.

Woods’ classically themed pieces are on view through April 22 in a group show at Hammond Harkins Galleries.

“6 plus 1” presents the work of six artists who have an association with the gallery — Linda Gall, the late Dennison Griffith, Alteronce Gumby, Andrew Hendrixson, Andrea Myers and Carol Stewart — plus a new addition, Woods.

While all of the exhibit pieces are elegant and expressive, Woods’ works stand out for their artfully arcane references and memorable mix of materials.

“It’s a series of just unrelated events,” said Woods of her interest in classical style. “It started with the arch, and that got me to the palaces and the architecture of Rome.”

Arches, such as those found at the entrance to the Roman Colosseum, are the predominant shape in the acrylic-on-canvas “The Strange Potential of Confusion.” Embedded within the painting, however, are a tangle of human limbs — an arm, a leg, perhaps even fingers — that suggest a wrestling match. The piece is active with movement.

Similar forms are seen in “In Unison and Out,” also an acrylic-on-canvas, but this time, the body parts that emerge from the snarl of arches call to mind discus players.

Perhaps Woods’ classical tastes come through most strongly in several stunning scagliola sculptures. About five years ago, the artist encountered the craft after happening upon a YouTube video by accident.

“I’ve always loved working with plaster and this was taking it to the next level,” Woods said. “You can’t find a recipe online, you can’t find any books about it — they’re all in Italian.”

Last year, Woods began corresponding about scagliola with Walter Cipriani, an artist in Italy; in the summer, she traveled to Bangor, Pennsylvania, to study the technique with James Gloria, one of Cipriani’s students.

Nestled in the corner of a gallery wall is Woods’ “Re-Iteration,” in which a smooth rod emerges from a clumpy mass of plaster. Meanwhile, a trio of wall sculptures — “Atmospheric Span,” “Grab Hold” and “Parts Interlocking Within” — suggest masks with melted, disfigured faces; here and throughout the show, Woods’ scagliola pieces feature a seemingly infinite number of wrinkles and creases.

“The whole folded form for me (is) a root in my work for the last maybe four years — kind of an image, or a thought, of stacked quilts,” Woods said.

For visitors who frequent Hammond Harkins Galleries, the rest of the exhibit offers familiar pleasures from recognizable artists. Alteronce Gumby’s dazzling works in watercolor, “Study in Green” and “Study in Red,” ask the viewer to contemplate single colors, but the artist’s oil-on-panel “Its Name Shall Be Called Wonderful” features a mix of hews reminiscent of an aurora borealis.

Meanwhile, Carol Stewart’s “January Light,” acrylic-on-paper-on-panel provides a feast for the eyes with its splendid spread of vases and dinnerware; and Linda Gall’s whimsical acrylic-on-canvas “The Prince” offers a contemporary figure posed beside a ballerina on a shell.

Other highlights include a work from Dennison Griffith’s “Another World” series of paintings; pieces using both paint and fabric by Andrew Hendrixson; and a group of Andrea Myers’ works in acrylic and ink on layered paper.

 

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