Saturday afternoon, the spring-like teaser of gorgeous sunny weather here in Philadelphia beckoned me to head downtown with my husband and soak-up as much fun while seeing the city sights. After an amazing lunch on historic Front street, I decided on a whim to take a closer look at the ceramic sculpture show now up at The Clay Studio in Old City, only two or three city streets away.Salt Lake City-based ceramic sculptor Derek Reeverts creates fascinating compositions in clay and mixed media, using himself both facially and most likely figuratively as his only model. One Good Turn is a work that is approximately only 12″ or so tall, and displayed in the gallery with Reeverts’ other sculptural pieces on a small horizontal white-painted shelf. So many questions arise when viewing this piece; one sees a male figure standing on top of a decimated building/destroyed brick wall, holding weaponry such as a Colt .45 handgun with a hand grenade, wearing a “Ghost-busters” type backpack of an air-cooled machine gun. Only…so many of these items of war are turned by Reeverts into objets d’art, or more specifically, Delft porcelain ware from c. the 19th century. Is the “madman” an exaggeration of Reeverts’ own personality/or peer-group flaws vs. a comment on political figures, such as that dictator figure image emerging from a tank-latch opening within the male figure’s brain? A Bee in my Bonnet depicts a kneeling male figure, Reeverts using himself as model again, accented on his bare torso with bumble bees nipping at his skin. The extreme level of skilled detail rendered in his sculptures appears to be a kindred quality with several other artists that are also MFA graduates from Ohio’s Miami University, like Reeverts. If familiar with any of the artwork created by Miami U. graduates – skillset, dedication to craftsmanship, and extreme attention-to-detail seem to be an overall theme found in their work. Just observe the texture in the clay of the figure’s skin, musculature, and even the copper-texture to the belt buckle. However, what does this piece mean? Reeverts is convincing in his artist statement when he writes how identity is what his work explores and what captures his attention. The artist asks himself questions to help identify the world and events around him, however, the “intent of addressing these questions is not necessarily to come to an answer.”
Sometimes, in seeing an artist’s work, we viewers are best left assuming, wondering and possibly thinking to ourselves, “Now what did that piece mean?”
Derek Reeverts: The Devil You Know can be viewed through March 31st, 2013 at The Clay Studio located at 137-139 North 2nd Street in downtown Philadelphia, PA.