In its latest exhibition, the University of Rhode Island’s Main Art Gallery is proud to present “Bound to Sea,” a gallery created in a unique art space through multiple different mediums.
The gallery is presented by professor Ben Anderson, who has worked at URI since 1995, teaching courses in three-dimensional art and sculpture. Last year, he was on sabbatical where he resided at The Banff Center in Alberta, Canada for about four and a half weeks. While there, he began drawing and formulating ideas for pieces inspired by his time in Canada.
“The ideas evolved into these ceramic pieces, with this background theme of nautical activities,” Anderson said. “That’s where the statement for this all evolved from. The pieces are sort of inventions, themselves. They are more about abstraction than formal relationships.”
“Bound to Sea” features ceramic pieces, rope sculptures, woodworking pieces and drawings with watercolor. The drawings began as ways of working out his ideas, and connecting to the environment around him while at The Banff Center. Many of the shapes and ideas in the drawings came from collections of rocks Anderson found.
The large wooden sculptures in the exhibit are reminiscent of pier pilings, and vary in shape and size within the exhibit. Some other pieces in the gallery utilize rope as their main component, and use interesting shapes to continue the nautical theme.
“For me, when I was looking at these wood pieces, I was reacting to the shapes and forms of the wood itself,” Anderson said. “For the rope, I wanted to play with the forms and textures of it. I like the idea of contrasting real world materials with ‘made’ things.”
Anderson explained that he went to Canada with a loose idea for the pieces in mind, but they really evolved and began to take shape while he was living there. Some of the ceramic pieces, as well as the drawings, were completed there as well. Many of the pieces are representative of the serenity that Anderson experienced while he was in Canada.
“With a lot of the things that I make, I am interested in these very meditative objects,” Anderson said. “They have this serenity to them. They have a calming effect. They are just very simple, reduced forms.”
One of the most eye grabbing pieces in the exhibit is a bronze piece on the floor near the center of the room. The piece, which is in the shape of a net, is a large scale version of something that Anderson has worked on before.
“I like the metaphor of the net,” Anderson said. “It’s the idea of collecting, being caught and excess. A net can be somewhat destructive at the same time as being nourishing. I like all of those metaphorical qualities, but at the same time, as an object, I really enjoy it too. I wanted to use this shape to create negative space.”
There were some pieces that Anderson wanted to be part of this exhibition, but were pulled as he felt they were going in a different direction from the rest of his work. Self-editing is a very important part of the creative process, according to Anderson.
“Editing for artists, or in any creating field really, is so important,” Anderson said. “Even when the work is good, it is an important part of the process to know when to take something out or include it.”
“Bound to Sea” will be in the Main Art Gallery in the Fine Arts Center from now until April 1. For more information about Professor Anderson’s work, visit: web.uri.edu/art/meet/ben-anderson.