‘Sculptress’: Exhibit by Gracelee Lawrence
Showing through Feb. 28
The Wilma W. Daniels Gallery
200 Hanover St. (1st floor of CFCC’s
Hanover Parking Deck)
Chapel Hill artist Gracelee Lawrence’s unique style of sculptures and installation speaks to what it means to be both feminine and creative without perpetuating stereotypes. Lawrence’s new exhibit “Sculptress” features all new work completed by the artist from 2012 through 2013 and is now showing at the Wilma W. Daniels Gallery at Cape Fear Community College, located on the first floor of the school’s Hanover Parking Deck.
Brandon Guthrie, Chair of CFCC’s Humanities and Fine Arts Department, recently put out a call for entries on the North Carolina Arts Council website. Out of the 100 proposals received, he chose Lawrence’s work for the exhibition.
Earlier in the month, CFCC began hosting the exhibit formerly known as the Hanover Gallery. The space was recently named for Wilma W. Daniels, a long-time supporter of CFCC. “Sculptress” features 10 new pieces—two installations and eight sculptures—and will show at the gallery through February 28th.
encore spoke with the sculptress about her style and family heritage of artistry.
encore (e): It’s very hard to put your art into words, so I’ll leave that to you—how would you describe your work?
Gracelee Lawrence (GL): My work is a diverse series of experiments that fluctuate between feminist commentary and formalistic explorations of materials and color. Currently I am experimenting with a series of installations and performance pieces that move beyond a static sculptural object and place my work into a more actively public sphere. I am interested in how women have been portrayed historically and the present-day ramifications of outdated language and societal expectations in reference to women.
e: Do you consider yourself a sculptor, an installation artist, or something else completely?
GL: Deep down, no matter what other genres I employ, I consider myself a sculptress. Three dimensional objects and materials speak to me. Installations seem to be an extension of my sculptural work that allows further intervention into space and thus into the realm of the viewer. While sculptures also occupy space concurrently with the viewer, installations provide the space and flexibility to create an opportunity for the viewer to engage with the work on a new level.
e: Is there any particular theme “Scultpress” represents?
GL: This exhibition shows a broad range of my work, from stand-alone steel sculptures and installations to text work. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to show these pieces together because they show a range of my work that spans different media and thought processes. While the steel sculptures are more formalistic in the methodology of their creation and end result, the text installation “Sculptress” draws on feminist ideologies by examining outdated language. It is the first in a series of work using words that end in -ess, such as lioness or benefactress. This collection of work is a varied yet connected combination of pieces that offer many different views of my process and interests.
e: What inspired you to become an artist?
GL: I come from a wonderfully supportive family of artists who have encouraged and supported me all the way. Growing up my family often went to museums, galleries, and festivals. Also, watching my mother, father, and grandmothers practice their own art set an example for me that being an artist is a possibility if you work hard and keep at it. That being said, my work doesn’t resemble theirs at all.
e: When did you become interested in sculpting?
GL: [Creating] art since early childhood, I became more serious during my high school years. Focusing on ceramics, primarily glazes and decoration, art was my haven. During undergrad I was fortunate to have a wonderful Art Department at Guilford College that opened my eyes to many possibilities and gave me the space, time, and knowledge to actively engage with the contemporary art world. I knew from the beginning that sculpture was my focus—I’ve never been much of one for drawing, painting even less. I was given a solid footing at Guilford that has allowed me to continue deeper into my practice, as I am now examining ways of making that wouldn’t have seemed plausible while at Guilford.