Gray Whales 'Beached' on South Broad Street at University of the Arts

Visiting artist Shay Church invites the public to participate in the creation of an outdoor installation and exhibition of three large-scale gray whales from wet clay

March 24, 2010

Ceramic artist Shay Church, a visiting artist at the University of the Arts, is looking for artistic types who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty when he hosts the creation of three large-scale wet-clay gray whales for an art installation in the University's project space (313 S. Broad St.) on Sunday, March 28 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Another installment in Church's ongoing wet-clay installation series in which he uses both whales and African elephants as his sources of imagery, this site-specific project will be created with wooden foundations and covered with clay and sand. As is his practice, Church is inviting the public to help create the huge creatures.

"The dynamic aspect of three gray whales constructed of wood and wet clay rising from the gravel covered lot on the Avenue of the Arts brings to mind a 'fearlessness' in creativity," said Joe Girandola, director of the University's low residency MFA program in Ceramics, Painting and Sculpture. "Shay's work incorporates a process of collaboration and community that has driven the global spirit through centuries of making."

The installation will be available for public view daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. through April 3. An on-site reception is being held on April 1 from 2 – 6 p.m.

Church's most recent wet-clay installations include the creation of an elephant at the Cue Art Foundation in New York City, an adolescent grey whale at the Archie Bray Foundation of Ceramic Arts in Helena, Mont., and a cypress gray whale at Cypress College in California.

"Gray whales and African elephants have long, daunting migrations they must survive each year," he said. "I like to describe my installations as 'migrations interrupted.' This puts a forceful, crude human twist on an elegant natural cycle. I find comfort in meditating on their constant migratory state."

The creation of this installation is being held in conjunction with the 2010 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts 44th annual conference “Independence,” being held in Philadelphia March 31 – April 3.

Photo: Shay Church's installation "Gray Whale" in an exhibition in Cypress, Calif.

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