Huntsville, Ala. – The Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA) is pleased to present the fifth installment of its new Connections exhibition series focused on contemporary artists linked in terms of subject matter and sensibility. Connections: Hoss Haley | George Peterson | Tom Shields is on view now through March 25, 2018.
“This installment of the Connections series showcases three artists from Western North Carolina who recycle and transform discarded materials into stunning works of art,” said HMA Director of Curatorial Affairs Peter Baldaia. “This is an exciting and thought provoking exhibition that we are proud to organize and showcase at the Museum.”
Hoss Haley crumples and reassembles sheets of metal stripped from old appliances into stunning modernist forms. George Peterson carves and paints scrapped skateboard decks, changing them into primitive, handcrafted wall artifacts. Tom Shields explores furniture as a subject rather than an object, melding old and broken chairs and tables into complex visual forms with potent narrative potential.
Sculptor Hoss Haley is regionally acclaimed for his striking works in steel, concrete and bronze. He learned machining and steel fabrication at an early age and then apprenticed as a blacksmith for several years in Texas and New Mexico. The works in his recent White Series utilize enameled steel from recycled washing machines, and are the direct result of regular visits to the scrap yard.
“I developed a quick process for stripping the metal from the machines then started forming the metal in my hydraulic press to experiment with form,” Haley said. “I liked the way the metal crumpled under the pressure of the press; it reminded me of paper. I started thinking about how we tend to buy things with little thought of the future. We can buy appliances and electronics so cheaply that when they break, we toss them and go get new ones. It is like writing on a piece of paper, changing your mind, wadding it up, tossing it away, and starting again.”
Self-taught artist, George Peterson, is fascinated with the irregular shapes resulting from wood shrinking and drying. A lifelong skateboarder, his most recent Lingo series transforms discarded skateboard decks into primitive shield-like wall sculptures through an elaborate process of carving, burning and painting.
“My aim with this series is to celebrate the iconic nature of the skateboard, as well as the creative and destructive energy that goes into their formation,” Peterson observed. “I have come to see these broken and banged up pieces of plywood as a type of exotic material. Not because it’s rare or expensive, but because it’s been processed in unique and specific ways. Creatively speaking, this series owes a lot to the culture and industry of skateboarding. Like making art, skateboarding is a very creative and personal outlet. It is also inherently destructive — boards get worn down, cracked and broken. It is a subtle and unintended type of wood sculpting.”
Tom Shields has been working with wood in one capacity or another for nearly twenty years, making the shift from carpenter to artist in 2010, when he earned an MFA in wood from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. His intriguing sculptures recombine various parts of discarded old furniture into new and exciting forms that retain a strong connection to the past.
Shields commented, “I am painfully aware of the quantity of ‘things’ in the world, and the landfills that are overflowing with them, so I use the garbage as my lumber-yard. I collect wood furniture from the trash and let it pile up in my studio until it slowly starts to amalgamate into groups. Because I don’t work with an empty material, such as a lump of clay or a blank sheet of paper, the most important part of my process is listening to what the material and objects are saying before I even touch them.”
For more information about Connections: Hoss Haley | George Peterson | Tom Shields and to view other exhibitions that are on display at HMA, visit www.hsvmuseum.org or call 256.535.4350.