Tag Archives: sculptures

Bill Shillalies – Working with the Elements of Nature

By Caitlyn Shea

billAs a student at Adelphi University I knew Bill Shillalies as an almost permanent fixture in the ceramics studio. He would be teaching, assisting students that were struggling to make their pottery stand up straight, or watching over the huge Anagama kiln. I could never fit his class into my schedule but every time I would be hollowing out a sculpture or standing over buckets of glaze with a worried look, he would appear as if by magic and give me practical guidance so that I could come to a good decision on my own.

I vividly remember seeing a new sculpture hanging in the studio one day. bill3In structure it resembled an iconic beehive. It was a larger piece and many students took a break from their work to crowd around it. Upon closer examination, the surface had a rough organic white texture floating and obscuring the view of a deep dense blue shine. Immediately it took on the enormity of constellations in the night sky, yet still made one contemplate organic and earthly form.  It was unmistakably Bill’s signature aesthetic.

Bill5Conjuring elements of nature, Bill is influenced heavily by his time spent outdoors hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and being near lakes and beaches. He says that he is fascinated by seeing his outdoor works relate with their surroundings. He states “Every time I put them down on the ground it is different, I like to see them change with the seasons.” Elements like snow, dew drops, and rain play with the surface of his sculptures in their respective environments. His wall hangings and pottery also brings a sense of the outdoors to the indoors.

Bill takes pleasure in the surprise elements of sculpture. “I enjoy the things that I have no control over.  Sometimes it hurts and I have to do it over again, but then I might get it to where it makes me smile.” He is most easily defined by his passion for making new work and for his delight in being surrounded by excited sculptors at Adelphi University and Nassau County Community College.

When I asked him where his passion came from he answered:

“Passion is the key word! I was doing very poorly in school because I could not read well or spell. Teachers just did not understand me and wrote me off. I met a teacher whom realized I had dyslexia and another that suggested I major in Ceramics. My life changed and I have been making art every day to keep my hands moving. Lucky me, I love teaching, so my life is whole!”

During SPARKBOOM‘s Kickoff event, “Beards, Bards and BOOM”, Bill Shillalies will have two sculptures in the Walt Whitman Birthplace garden. He has left them untitled and open to the viewer’s own interpretation.  Check it out on June 21st! Click here to RSVP.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlyn SImagehea is a professional fine art painter. She studied Studio Art and Art History at Pratt Institute and Skidmore College before graduating with a BFA from Adelphi University in 2011. Outside of her studio, Shea is captivated by the pluralism that exists in art today, and the ways in which individual artists define themselves and their practices in order to carve out a unique career. By interviewing participating SPARKBOOMTM artists, Shea looks to develop a dialogue between practicing artists and an audience that does not only include other art experts, but people who have a newfound urge to become involved in experiencing the work of fresh, exciting artists.

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Steve Ceraso – Transforming Basic Materials

By Jenna Weis

steve cersaso

In the art world, to utilize the most expensive and sophisticated tools from a local art store does not necessarily produce work with character. This is something achieved by being innovative with what is already available paired with the technical knowledge of the medium. Sculptor Steve Ceraso has mastered multiple types of three dimensional art techniques creating various series of works, each diverse in content yet all formed from re-purposed materials. Although his venture as an artist began with mechanical drawing and architecture in high school, it was the act of sculpture making that fulfilled his creativity…

“I wanted to make art that went beyond image-making. Sculpture and installation did that for me.”

Without the guidance of a specific image Ceraso must rely on his own creativity and the objects themselves to construct sculptures that truly emit character in the sense of materiality and form.

As Ceraso evolves as an artist, so does his work. He explains; “From series to series, I am thinking about changes, however these re-purposed materials are always there. I want the viewer to respond to my work and make conclusions of their own.” His Amorphous Form series came together when working with a group of sculptors in Long Island City and learned the art of cast iron sculpture.

The “biomorphic shapes” as he describes, completely reconfigures the rigid material of the metal that it once was. He explains; “I was concerned with making these fluid organic forms because it is something that is difficult to achieve with fabricated welding processes. It’s not easy to bend metal without extreme heat!” This correspondence between the original object and the end result is what Ceraso keeps in mind when obtaining his materials for a piece. Anything that makes the viewer question its original source is what inspires Ceraso.

This artist seems to always be broadening his expertise in casting. Being invited to work with other sculptors in a Pennsylvania foundry has given him the background to bronze casting. He says:

“Something about the process is just amazing, the process of working in a foundry with other sculptors is also a great exchange of ideas and skills.”

Taking his knowledge of casting from this experience, he became a sculpture professor at LIU post working with aluminum yet still continues to be exposed to new techniques. More recently Ceraso has explored small scale pewter casting that he now teaches at a Bay Shore gallery that he manages.

Steve Ceraso will be showcasing his work at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event June 21st at The Walt Whitman Birthplace from 7-10 PM. Look for him in the Sculpture Garden! RSVP here. For more information visit: sparkboom.org.

For more about Steve Ceraso visit: stevenceraso.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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“How We Assign Value to Objects” – Understanding The Mind of Nicole Hixon

By Jenna Weis

PastedGraphic-1Living in an environmentally centered society it has become almost second nature to recycle materials we use every day, even frowned upon when we don’t. For most of us, the thought of those materials become obsolete in the aftermath but artist, Nicole Hixon questions “what happens to the things we no longer use or see?” Growing up in a transitional time to a more environmentally friendly world, Hixon became inspired to bring attention to the value of disposed objects. She says; “I realized that I could use materials people believed were expendable to create something more from them and give them new life.” By reconfiguring these disposed objects Hixon reveals the natural quality she sees in them and generates organically charged sculptures.

Hixon discovered her artistic calling with ceramics, but it was her PastedGraphic-3interaction with the art of Chakaia Booker that sparked her interest of working with disposed materials. She says “I was inspired to create work from inorganic material and make it seem natural- make it grow.” With old tires, plastic bottles, and other found objects donated by friends and family, Hixon creates sculptures that represent what we see in nature yet brings to light their original forms which she believes is where their true value comes from.  Instead of simply throwing her finds in a recycling bin never to be thought of again, she says she has “a bigger plan and agenda to elevate their status.”

Her sculptures entail organic shapes and textures making the original materials unrecognizable at first glance. She then labels her works with codes that would be seePastedGraphic-2n on an assembly line to force the viewer to confront “how we often strip the planet of natural resources to make synthetic things instead of using what’s given.” Consideration of material, form, and title together in her sculptures contribute to her overall theme of value in objects, which she also explores with photography. In ‘The Calgary’ series ominous photos of the cemetery, created through a plastic bottle filter, connects human bodies to disposed objects. She explains; “In continuing to think about how we assign value to objects, I started thinking about how we assign value to life and death and the cycles in our bodies, because in these bodies we are ourselves disposable.”

Come see her work in the sculpture garden at the SPARKBOOM kickoff event “Beards, Bards, and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace from 7-10 PM.

For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

Visit Nicole’s website at nicolehixonart.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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