February 15 – March 13, 2022
University Art Gallery
Opening Reception & Artist Talk
Wednesday, February 16, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Artist Talk at 5:15 p.m.
The University of Redlands Art Gallery is pleased to present The Garden of Herbal Delights, an exhibition of sculptural works by artist Herb Weaver.
Beginning with the onset of the Covid pandemic, Weaver worked in collaboration with other artists to produce many of the works in the exhibition. As he describes it, “in an attempt to stay connected throughout the pandemic, I asked friends to ‘finish’ works that I started. Almost every artwork that returned completed was a delightful surprise...certainly different than what I expected or envisioned! The variety of selected solutions ranged from pastel, ink, graphite, gouache, acrylic, digital decals, saggar firing, glazes, pit firing, mixed and collage.”
In one work, “The Great Covering,” 2021, raku-fired ceramic masks in varying shapes and sizes are stamped with messages, including “MY SOUL CAN’T TAKE THIS,” “A TIME TO REMEMBER OR FORGET,” and “GOOD TROUBLE.” Another work, “Filling the Void,” 2021, consists of found objects, including an old tire, into which fiber and raku pieces are sown into the composition.
Herb Weaver is an artist and educator based in Rockingham, VA.
Collaborators include: Raúl Acero, Aaron Anslow, Charlotte Chambliss, Larry Chatman, Kevin Cole, Gordon Englehard, Jan Feldhausen, Colleen Harrigan, Patricia Lamb, Penny McElroy, Angela Michielutti, Belle Moldovan, Celeste Pierson, Michael x Ryan, and Jerry Stefl.
For me, a garden fulfills so many sensory needs. It starts with the preparation of tilling and refreshing the soil. Then, the seed selection process, the many choices, and subsequent planting. Perhaps the most agonizing part occurs over the next few weeks while the anticipation of growth overtakes and envelopes the lingering fear of a late frost or a variety of other things that could go wrong. Finally, the plants begin to flower and eventually bear fruit which leads to picking, tasting, and presentation!
Gardening is a lot like the making of art because it allows us to cultivate our dreams and bring them to fruition. Most recently, the pandemic stymied our rhythm of creativity and encouraged artists to seek new patterns of artistic growth. That revelation, coupled with a dysfunctional political system, spawned this exhibition idea to seek collaborations with the friends who have encouraged growth in my own life. As the poet Minnie Aumonier stated, “When the world wearies and society fails, there is always the garden.”
That sentiment, as well as personal works of art that reflect the “joys and concerns” of my own journey, constitute the contents of the exhibition. In an attempt to stay connected throughout the pandemic, I asked friends to “finish” works that I started. Almost every artwork that returned completed was a delightful surprise…certainly different than what I expected or envisioned! The variety of selected solutions ranged from pastel, ink, graphite, gouache, acrylic, digital decals, saggar firing, glazes, pit firing, mixed and collage. Therein lies the title of this show, the garden of herbal delights!
As an artist and art educator for four decades, I have strived to take art off the pedestal and into the daily lives of those who view my work. Focusing primarily on the medium of ceramic sculpture, my artwork is intended to make statements about life circumstances in a riddle-infused manner.
Accordingly, unveiled discovery lurks in the replication and implementation of common objects and forms, particularly when tweaked to benefit the intended message. Working with clay and its properties of malleability is one way to secure the transformation of my ideas into creation, but the assemblage of found objects is equally satisfying. Initially trained as a carpenter, of particular interest and concern to me is the intersection of construction practices, architecture, and sculpture in regard to spatial awareness.
To define the influences that have had a significant impact on my artwork is difficult. Certainly a major factor in my artistic development was the instruction and contribution from my ceramics teachers. The most influential was Masako Miyata, who passed on to me a deeper understanding of the Japanese tradition in both lifestyle and creation of art forms. No less important however, but hard to measure, is my somewhat conservative Mennonite upbringing in the peripheral regions of Appalachia that stressed responsibility, a self-sufficient attitude, and a common-sense mentality. This background has enabled me to learn many trades --- carpentry, plumbing, electricity, masonry – which is reflected in my artwork in various ways.
It has been said that artists are the prophets of the day, and this charge drives my artwork, particularly with expressions of peace, social justice, political dysfunction, and environmental issues. The transition out of academia to full-time art making has been challenged with many unforeseen distractions and roadblocks leading me to an unusual aura of creative urgency. Audrey Hepburn once said “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” and my goal continues to focus on the cultivation of that ultimate art garden!