Valdosta Daily Times

Features

February 11, 2013

Everyday Something New

VALDOSTA — Every semester, twice a year, Valdosta State University Art presents a gallery show of its graduating seniors’ works. Always intriguing, in some cases, these artists stay in the region following graduation, but more often, after the senior show, the artists return to their hometowns elsewhere or move onto other cities to start their careers.

Have you ever wondered what happened to some of those artists?

If so, “Everyday Something New,” the latest show opening Monday evening in the VSU Fine Arts Gallery, answers this question ... at least for one artist.

The one-man show features the works of artist Mathew McConnell, a 2004 graduate of the VSU art department.

At VSU, McConnell specialized in ceramics thanks to Michael Schmidt, his ceramics instructor. McConnell also worked as an assistant with Valdosta-based artist and former VSU art instructor Don Penny.

Leaving Valdosta, McConnell continued his art education, earning a master of fine arts degree in ceramics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. He serves as a visiting University of Arkansas assistant professor of ceramics. Like his Valdosta mentors, Schmidt and Penny, McConnell continues developing as an artist.

This development will be on display in “Everyday Something New.”

McConnell takes ceramics to the bare essence of its clay origins and infuses his work with a raw, totemic iconography. He works in textures. He delves into the bold, savage simplicity of shape.

In an artistic statement, McConnell boils down his artistic mission of “the physical act of object-making.” He is seeking to understand and discover an alternative route into “our evolving moment in art history.” He chooses works to remake and alter to his paradigm of imagery.

“Choosing works to remake and alter is as intuitive as it is arbitrary,” McConnell says. “I find myself primarily drawn to the objects I am most skeptical of. Often these are objects that raise questions about their potential role in the world if they were not to be viewed under the presumptions of an artistic practice. Many of the objects and images I choose also have a direct lineage to the works of a previous generation of artists. They too are re-worked responses to their predecessors and contemporaries.”

During this process, McConnell seeks “to pinpoint the exact moment at which the work becomes more mine than theirs.”

For the rest of this month, Valdosta viewers can seek these moments for themselves while at least being able to answer the question, Whatever became of Mathew McConnell? Hopefully, VSU Art will answer this question with other graduating artists in seasons to come.

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