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University of Iowa students open “Surface Remix” at Smith Gallery

University+of+Iowa+ceramics+graduate+students+made+up+of+Maria+Aldrete%2C+Donte+K+Hayes%2C+Josh+Van+Stippen%2C+Samuel+Halvorson%2C+Dia+Webb%2C+Brant+Weiland+and+Timmy+Wolfe%2C+opened+Surface+Remix+in+Smith+Gallery.+Photo+by+Alexandra+Fontana.
University of Iowa ceramics graduate students made up of Maria Aldrete, Donte K Hayes, Josh Van Stippen, Samuel Halvorson, Dia Webb, Brant Weiland and Timmy Wolfe, opened “Surface Remix” in Smith Gallery. Photo by Alexandra Fontana.
University of Iowa ceramics graduate students made up of Maria Aldrete, Donte K Hayes, Josh Van Stippen, Samuel Halvorson, Dia Webb, Brant Weiland and Timmy Wolfe, opened “Surface Remix” in Smith Gallery. Photo by Alexandra Fontana.

“Surface Remix,” a collection of eclectic and dynamic sculptures organized by University of Iowa ceramics graduate student Donté K. Hayes, is on display at the Smith Gallery. The sculptures in the exhibit were created by a group of University of Iowa ceramics students who call themselves “The Collective.”

Dia Webb, one of the members of The Collective whose art is featured as part of the exhibit, said that “Surface Remix” represents how The Collective is “such a diverse group.”

“We use it as a platform to talk about the things that are super important and I feel like it helps bring awareness to those things that we all feel [are] important,” Webb said.

While each of the nine artists featured in the exhibit worked with clay as their medium, they all took inspiration from their unique life experiences to create their individual works.

For example, Hayes draws on his upbringing in the South to ask questions about racist histories left unacknowledged in Southern symbolism and the Black body. His piece titled “Afrodisiac” depicts a woman of color’s head on a pineapple, which is a traditional symbol of welcoming and hospitality in the South. The work comments on the racist history of that symbol, specifically about how it was used to ‘welcome’ slaves to the United States, he explained.

Maria Aldrete takes inspiration from her life as a non-resident alien in the United States and sculpts pieces that depict or represent aliens. Her sculpture titled “Green Seed” gives the clay a slimy, otherworldly look and texture to comment on the idea of an alien.

Webb’s work is largely centered around issues of mental health. Her creation called “disconnected” shows a woman staring into the distance absentmindedly.

Samuel Halvorson’s work on mental health is on display with his piece “Dustbowl,” a clear reference to the devastating effect climate can have on humanity.

The artists involved are acutely aware of why their works are important specifically for a college-aged audience to interact with at Grinnell. “I think it’s nice to have people who are young and engaged and invested in the future, you know, as opposed to people who have sort of turned the corner and don’t want to be involved in politics or policy or anything,” said Halvorson.

All the artists interviewed encouraged students to walk into the exhibit and engage with the art. Dia Webb encourages students “just to look,” and to “allow yourself to be vulnerable to new ideas.”

Ultimately, artist Timmy Wolfe says that the most important part of going in and perusing the exhibit is simply to try to feel “humans together and work through this super chaotic crazy atmosphere.”

The official opening reception for the exhibit is being held on Friday, Nov. 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., but the display will run through Dec. 2. Next semester, Smith Gallery will primarily be occupied by exhibitions of work done by students in the studio art department.

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