– by John Allen, Arrowmont database and gift acknowledgement coordinator
The current Arrowmont Artists-in-Residence exhibition, Party of Five, suggests a celebration as well as a group of friends in conversation around the table. This dialogue takes place between the artists’ works and as an invitation extended to the viewer. The show, which opened March 17th, 2022, concludes with a closing reception on May 13th, 2022 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm in the Sandra J. Blain Galleries at Arrowmont.
The closing event is an opportunity to meet the artists – Elizabeth Belz, Horacio Casillas, Kyle Cottier, Naomi David Russo, and Lena Schmid – in person before they leave Arrowmont for their next opportunity. With that in mind, it may be helpful to learn more about each individual artist featured in the show to better appreciate the work on display.
Elizabeth Belz took an unconventional path to blacksmithing with a skillset accumulated from numerous craft school workshops, internships, and apprenticeships. She was a Creative Catalyst Fellowship at the John C Campbell Folk School. Belz’ intricate forging processes contrast with her unexpected insectoid forms, confronting on a human scale the banal surrealism of entomological worlds. Works in Party of Five exhibit a variety of approaches including freestanding sculptures, installations and an interactive gumball machine.
Horacio Casillas’ work could be interpreted as a love letter to multicultural cross-pollinations of religion, culture and architecture, reflecting the artist’s varied geographical influences. Born in Chandler, Arizona, Casillas’ colorful ceramic forms most frequently reference the Gothic architecture the artist experienced growing up in Jalisco, Mexico. Interpreted in ceramics with a variety of surface techniques and approaches, Casillas’ ceramic sculptures distill religion, ritual and Catholic structures into ceramic forms.
Kyle Cottier’s work combines textile approaches with woodworking materials. Utilizing raw forms and surprising material construction approaches, Cottier’s sculptures and installations use repetition to transform wood or ceramic with the artist’s distinct application of material. His pieces feel energetic, as though ready to leap off a podium or strut to be worn, hung, or draped on the body.
Naomi David Russo
Naomi David Russo arrived at Arrowmont with a background in woodworking and furniture design from the Maine College of Art, including a post-graduate Alumni Residency at the school. The artist’s furniture design features clean, modern forms which seamlessly transition into a variety of bows, bends and curves using bent lamination techniques. Her influence? Playground architecture and playful structures. Russo’s work is functional in nature, inviting human interaction in each piece.
Lena Schmid’s paintings, executed on luminous suspended silks, are meditations on the poetics of time, space and surface. Influenced by the distortions experienced from the perspective of a person with chronic pain, Schmidt’s cosmic imagery belies painful origins. Holding an MFA from Hunter College and having been featured at SPRING/BREAK Art Fair, Lena was awarded a Printmaking Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
John David Allen is an artist whose work has been exhibited regionally and internationally, including the Corcoran Gallery and Arrowmont Center for Arts and Craft. His work incorporates drawing, sculpture, photography, and printmaking. John’s work is often focused on process, especially aspects that are experimental, meditative or imaginative. Born in Upstate South Carolina near the Blue Ridge escarpment, John was always in and around the outdoors, imparting a love of exploration as well as an interest in History, the natural environment and place. He earned a BFA from Clemson University in 2010 and completed an MFA from the University of South Florida in 2014. John was instructor at The University of South Florida, Maryville College, and Pellissippi State Community College. He is currently database and gift acknowledgement coordinator at Arrowmont.