CPAC names Art aRound Town Best of Show |

CPAC names Art aRound Town Best of Show

Staff Report
"PURGATORY/CHINA" by Washington, D.C., artist Matthew Duffy was voted Best of Show in the Carbondale Public Arts Commission's 2015-16 Art aRound Town exhibit. For the first time, students at Carbondale schools selected the winning public art piece.
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Carbondale Public Arts Commission Chair Ashley Todey announced the Best of Show winner for the 2015-16 Art aRound Town exhibition at the First Friday Carbondale Library Lit Crawl. Art classes from all Carbondale schools were the judges for this year’s selection, and after a month of viewing and discussing the 14 sculptures of this year’s exhibition, the art students have voted ‘PURGATORY/CHINA’ as the grand winner.

The thought-provoking sculpture of recycled cast glass and stainless steel was created by artist Matthew Duffy of Washington, D.C. In addition to being able to add this award to his resume, Duffy will receive an award check for $1,000.

Asked about the process and concept behind his sculpture, Duffy said, “While experimenting with a glass casting process that involves making relief images in plaster dust, then melting floatglass in a kiln to fill the void, I realized the resulting details were incredible. If you were to cast an impression of your hand you could read all the fingerprints in the resulting glass.

“At the time I was going through a spiritual growth, and contemplating the concept of Purgatory. What is Purgatory, is it a repository for lost souls? I created the glass faces from an acupuncture model as a collection of ‘lost souls.’ In the detail one can see the ‘chi’ points in the face. The ancient Chinese had a strong association between chi, the soul and water. With the glass representing water, I thought all of the elements fit nicely together.”

Art students from all of the Carbondale schools were invited to be the jury to select this year’s Best of Show. This was the first year that students were the jurors, and it proved to be a most exciting and enlightening process. Many classes created their own criteria for selection, and lengthy discussions ensued.

Matt Haugh’s students at Colorado Rocky Mountain School considered the artistic appeal and quality of execution as well as the commercial appeal of each piece.

Susan Annabel reported that her fourth-grade class at Crystal River Elementary voted using a rubric that included craftsmanship, creativity and aesthetic beauty.

“It was a wonderful cross-curriculum opportunity, not just critiquing art but also using math through the rubric, geography by learning how to read maps and follow directions and P.E. by walking to each of the 14 sculptures,” Annabel said.

Nine sculptures out of 14 were nominated, which is an impressive commentary on the quality of this year’s exhibition.

Matthew Duffy found his love of sculpture by taking a steel sculpture class while majoring in architecture at the University of Maryland. He left architecture to concentrate full time on the arts, receiving his master of fine arts at Goldsmith College at the University of London in 2009. Duffy currently teaches art at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. After class, he creates public sculptures and fabricates steel structures for other artists.

Art aRound Town is an annual exhibition of 14 sculptures gracing the downtown core of Carbondale. The exhibition is a project conducted each year by the Carbondale Public Arts Commission. A call is sent out to national artists each fall with submissions received from 60-90 renowned sculptures each year. Members of CPAC then review and select 14 pieces to be on exhibition June through May.

The town of Carbondale initiated the Public Arts Commission in 1999 to promote all forms of visual art for the cultural enhancement and enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. The Art aRound Town program was initiated by CPAC in 2002 to bring sculpture to the streets of Carbondale. The first exhibition was of five sculptures from local artists, and the exhibition has grown in national stature each year.

In addition to the annual rotating exhibit, CPAC has also acquired 26 sculptures for a permanent Carbondale Collection. These acquisitions have come from artist donations, individual purchases contributed to the town, as well as CPAC purchasing sculptures through their 1 percent for the Arts program, which was initiated in 2003.

For more information, contact Jody Ensign at 970-948-9715.

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