The first vessel for drinking was two cupped hands, artist Matt Mitros explained. Since then, vessels have evolved from cupped hands to bowls and cups and then the mug was made, notable for its innovative handle.
Mitros was presenting a body of work titled “Low-Poly Echos” at Plough Gallery Saturday, March 9 at an opening reception for his work. Another exhibit titled “Remember Me a Story” by metalsmith Abigail Heuss opened the same night.
Mitros presented a collection of mugs each deconstructed, separating the handle from the vessel transforming coffee mugs into sculpture. Mitros used found materials, like his young son’s toys, as well as 3D printing, metal, plastic, foam and ceramics to create his work.
He explained, “This body of work is a series of recontextualizations of this notion of a mug. So a mug has all these architectural elements. So there’s a vessel for nourishment, but then there is a form of technology to hold it. Man decided one day to put a handle on a cup. And so that allowed us to transport the material.”
He wanted to break down the components “of a very historic and very, very human vessel like the mug into its architectural elements.”
The mugs turned sculpture had similar structural features: a platform for the drinking vessel and a connected platform for the handle.
“And the idea here is that this unifying sort of platform that these pieces are composed on will bring them together,” Mitros said.
After viewing Mitros’ work, attendant Aimee Blanton said, “I really appreciate how in almost every single piece […] there’s like innuendo of manmade space like with the material he uses.”
She thought the materials he used, like the faux pearls and glitter, were “distinct.”
“I really love how he uses those obviously manmade materials to like impress upon you what you would get from nature,” she said.
In the center of the room was a pedestal with a single mug composition that had a plastic pickle attached to it. When rotated the pickle would yodel. Viewers would tilt the pickle and lean in to hear it in the bustling gallery space.
Viewer Megan Swipes was pleased to see the vibrant color and humor in Mitros work.
“I love the pickle,” she laughed.
Heuss had two series of works on display. Both are related to experiences with her family. Paper tea cups and a tea set on one wall were opposite embroidered metal and forget-me-knot rings.
“I kind of think of my work like picture books in which I’m illustrating a story, but then just like a picture book anybody who looks at is gonna come up with a different story,” she said.
Each piece had a different story personal to the artist. She explained that in a span of four years she lost five immediate family members.
“So I thought a lot about legacy and what we leave behind,” she explained.
One piece features a hand-embroidered handkerchief with the word “home” in the center. The fabric is still in the embroidery hoop with a few stitches incomplete. The needle, loaded with thread, is stuck through the fabric as if its creator will return at any moment to complete it. The silver needle and hoop were both made by Heuss as well as the stitching.
The inspiration for it came from her aunt. She gave Heuss a piece of folded fabric from her great-great grandmother that had pencil drawings of a military insignias and symbols from her community. She was recently wed and her husband was promptly off to war. The handkerchief “reminded you of what you were missing,” said Heuss. But her husband died before she could finish.
”So she just folded it up and put it in this box where it stayed for the next 50 years,” she said.
On the opposite wall was a series of work made after seeing relatives diagnosed and live through dementia.
“In watching them lose their memories of themselves, lose their memories of who they were was a fascinating process, but also very sad, of course,” she said. “It was intellectually interesting to me to watch them become these sort of like childlike versions of themselves.”
While watching them, Heuss asked herself, “Who am I if I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself? Who am I if I don’t know who I was?”
Isaac Wright, a student at Valdosta State University said, “I think both [artists] have a lot to say about nature which I think I discovered is sort of a natural thing that artists flock to, but these especially are really creative and kind of like abstract and indirect about it.”
He said that Mitros work reminds him of growth while Heuss is more about change over time, like how metal patinas.
Both exhibits will be on display for approximately a month. Plough Gallery is located at 216 West Eighth Street.