HopeCAT Student Exhibit

Hope Center for Arts & Technology Student Exhibit

January 9 - March 29

Opening Reception, Friday January 12, 6-8 pm

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Arts & Education at the Hoyt is pleased to host the first student exhibition of Hope Center for Arts & Technology‘s ceramics program in Sharon, PA. While the facility officially only opened its doors a few weeks ago, the ceramics program has been operating in collaboration with Penn State Shenango since the fall of 2015.   Head ceramics instructor, Christian Kuharik, organized the display, representing the work of the 15 students featured at the December 7 ribbon cutting.

The Hope Center for Arts & Technology, or HopeCAT, is a replication of Bill Strickland’s Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) in Pittsburgh, an educational model blending the principles of art, music and environment with career training to produce productive members of society. Replication programs are not intended to just mentor students, but to break cycles of poverty and drive economic growth in the region.  Thus they work with the region’s employers and educators to continue identifying needs to expand programs.

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Stickland’s vision has always been rooted in clay – or rather the ability to create.  Thus most center’s begin with a ceramics program. Clay transformed Strickland’s own path as a teen under the guidance of high school art teacher, Frank Ross.  He feels that same perseverance that turns a lump of earth into art on a potter’s wheel can transform a life into something beautiful, too.   

The Hope Center for Arts & Technology Student Show will be on display in the Hoyt’s Ballroom Gallery through March 29. Kuharik and friends will coincidentally be exhibiting in the Walkway Gallery, alongside the work of Kirk Mangus and Eva Kwong in the Main Galleries.  A free Public Reception will be held on Friday, January 12, 6-8 pm.

Married in Clay: The Pennsylvania Years

January 4 - March 29
Public Reception: Friday, January 12, 6-8 pm
Kirk Mangus and Eva Kwong

It is not infrequent that artists marry each other, as the people they tend to meet are sharing their studies, attending gallery openings, or participating in the same professional art associations.  Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot are a few such famous examples. Perhaps it is no surprise then that the internationally recognized ceramicists, Kirk Mangus (1952-2013) and Eva Kwong (1954- ), forged their bond as undergrads at the Rhode Island School of Design in the mid-1970s.  Like Kirk’s own parents, Chick and Nizza Mangus, both already shared a love of clay. It eventually extended to each other.

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Arts & Education at the Hoyt’s newest exhibit Married in Clay: The Pennsylvania Years, January 4-March 29, offers a window into the relationship of two distinct bodies of work built from locally harvested clay. While their styles differ greatly, Mangus and Kwong remained partners and collaborators throughout their marriage sharing studio space, materials and ideas in his rural boyhood home in Mercer, PA. The featured work isn’t what you might typically view from Mangus or Kwong on Google. But it is, nonetheless, representative of the transition each individual artist was making while building his/her own career.

Mangus’ parents had encouraged a love of art early on, introducing him Toshiko Takaezu, his father’s mentor, and sending him to study at Penland School of Crafts. Mangus remained friends with Takaezu throughout her life,  firing her work in his Anagama kilns in Pennsylvania and Ohio over the years.   Following Rhode Island, Mangus spent two years as a resident at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia while Kwong earned her MFA from Tyler University, then moved on to Washington State University in Pullman to earn his own MFA.  Following the receipt of several fellowships, Mangus became Head of the Ceramics Department at Kent State University in 1985 and remained so until his death in 2013.

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His prolific output of ceramics and drawings drew on a multitude of influences, from comics to prehistoric animal figures, modernist abstraction, Japanese woodblock prints, and folk, Meso-American, and Asian ceramic traditions. He sought to renegotiate concepts of beauty, proposing an unguarded way of thinking and making. He is known for his playful, gestural style; roughhewn forms; heavily incised surfaces; and experimental glazing. Painter Douglas Max Utter later referred to them as “strange and wonderful ceramic vessels” that were “unapologetically clumsy, gorgeously physical” and “imbued with a sense of life and humor.”

Like her husband, Kwong received several fellowships upon graduating from Rhode Island, including a number from PA and OH arts councils and one from the National Endowment for the Art. She conducted a number of residencies and held many teaching positions while building her own exhibition record, including Head of the Ceramics Department at the University of Akron and art professor alongside Mangus at Kent State University.

Kwong, however, was born in urban Hong Kong and spent her teen years growing up in New York City.  She often referred to herself as a hybrid of Eastern and Western influences, looking at the world through the lens of both cultures while applying the philosophy of her traditional Chinese upbringing to her work.  The underlying energy of all life forces, or yin and yang, are opposing but complementary forces that are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.  Kwong’s work often centers on the juxtaposition of opposites, albeit mass/space, land/air, solid/hollow, or male/female forms. 

In contrast to Mangus, Kwong’s work is soft and sensuous, voluptuous in form.  Both large and small scale work is inspired by organic forms and colors observed from nature. Simple shapes and smooth surfaces emphasize subtle glazes or colorful decoration. Although most of the featured work bears earth tones. The references to natural forms began when Kwong was a work-study student in the Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design. The shapes, colors, patterns, structures, and principles of the human body and other organisms generated a visual vocabulary she still credits for informing her work today.

Playtime

by Michael Stephens

October 10-December 21
Public Reception: October 20, 6-8 pm

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Playtime features the assemblages of Edinburg native, Michael Stephens in the Blair Sculpture Walkway.  A self-described “tinkerer”, Stephens simply loves to make stuff out of found objects – particularly metal.  This fascination began as a kid in rural Missouri where he used to dig around in old farm trash dumps for vintage bottles and rusted metal pieces. He’s since added clock parts, gears, circuit boards and unusual objects collected from international travel.  The resulting collection is not only playful but has a distinctive steam punk vibe.

A noted metalsmith and jeweler, Stephens has received over 40 awards at nationally juried art shows throughout the U.S. He will begin offering classes at the Hoyt in 2018.

Sensation of Place

The Paintings of Brain Rutenberg
On Loan from the Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC

October 10 - December 21
Opening Reception: October 20, 6-8 pm

"Boxwood" oil on linen

"Boxwood" oil on linen

 Sensation of Place features the abstract landscapes of New York based artist, Brian Rutenberg in the galleries of Hoyt East.  Despite living in NYC for some 30 years now, Rutenberg describes himself as a Southern boy whose childhood memories of Pawley’s Island and bodies of water linking South Carolina to the ocean for his complex approach to light, color and composition.

“Southern children are taught to drink in the wondrous details of the local landscape,” he said. “A flower isn’t just a flower but Blue Water Hyssop or Southern March Canna, birds are Black-bellied Whistling Ducks or Red-footed Boobies, barbeque sauce is light tomato, heavy tomato, mustard or vinegar. Poetry lives in details and the artist’s job is to intensify them.”

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Rutenberg’s work has been featured in more than 200 exhibitions across the United States and may be found in numerous museum collections including the Butler Institute of American Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Bronx Museum of Art, Peabody Essex Museum of Art, and South Carolina State Museum to name a few.  Among his honors is a Fulbright Scholarship, fellowship from the New York Arts Foundation and the Basil Alkazzi USA Award.  He is represented by the Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, SC.