At the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym’s gallery throughout the month of February, a dozen artists try their hands at bending, molding and soldering metal into a variety of recognizable and fantastical forms. The “Process Show: Metal” at this Knight Arts grantee demonstrates technological explorations, smooth sculptural contours, as well as examples of what metal is – and is not.
Jesse Lentz wanders into the nebulous middle ground between music and art for her piece “Time is a great teacher but unfortunately it kills all its students.” Here, a kinetic sculpture modeled after a metronome stands ready to keep tempo for an unseen musician. In the center, instead of the usual, innocuous pendulum, Lentz’s piece instead displays a tiny metal cleaver or hatchet. Part Edgar Allan Poe pit and pendulum, part musical potentiality, this sculpture somberly but realistically reminds us of the limited time we all have available to experience and create in this world.
In the adjacent corner, Hayley Tomlinson battles the demons of inspiration in “Over 100 Failed Ideas.” A pile of what appears to be crumpled white paper loiters on the floor. This little stack represents the malaise of failed projects or abandoned ideas, a concept any creative individual – or perhaps anyone at all – can relate to. The balls of paper are actually made from smashed and painted steel, however. This trick proves that even in the midst of writer’s block or artistic dead end, useful ideas may find fertile ground almost anywhere.
Perhaps even more humble than Tomlinson’s faux-paper is Mya Kerner’s tiny creation “A Romanticization.” A minute splinter from an old log rests on a pedestal, and from its top rises a little plantlike sprout molded in bronze. While this little sprig is a testament to nature’s beauty and tenacity, it is also quite encouraging to the individual facing adversity or impediments.
Two busts also add a figurative angle to the exhibit. Andrew Wilkinson’s “GHOST MONKEY” consists of a smooth, rounded hunk of aluminum in the shape of a haunting monkey head. Its eyeless sockets are almost human but it is rather benign and soft in appearance. The actual human representation is “WARHEAD” by Salvatore Cerceo. It is cut off right below the nose while a tank rolls over the jagged hill of its hairline, surrounded by soldiers. Unlike the rest of the animal kingdom, us two-legged apes have had a tendency for war and conflict such as the world has never known. Cerceo’s sculpture is a grave but warranted consideration of how violence and war shape our species.
These and many more metallic constructions await visitors to the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym. The metal process show will be in the gallery through February 28th.
Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is located at 1834 E. Frankford Ave., Philadelphia; email@example.com; philadelphiasculpturegym.com.