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‘The Poetics of Sculpture’ nods to sculpting past and process

Leah Aegerter’s “Walking Across Country After Dark” and “Desert Diorama” in “The Poetics of Sculpture” exhibition at the R2 Gallery in Carbondale on Oct. 6.
Rich Allen / Post Independent

Just like many people, Leah Aegerter found herself with a lot of spare time on her hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She picked up a book called “Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women” by Jenni Sorkin, which explores the lineage of sculpture making by women throughout history. An essay by Anne Wagner within the book titled “The Poetics of Sculpture” got her thinking about the lineage of female abstract sculpturists and their methodologies.

When she saw Carbondale Arts’ call for proposals, she decided she wanted to contribute to that lineage and recruited her friends Louis Deroualle and Nori Pao. The show, named after the essay, opened at the R2 Gallery on Sept. 17 with an artist meet-and-greet.



“I was just thinking about how we can add to the canon of these feminists who were working in a male-dominated industry and paved the way for us now to be able to make the work we make,” Aegerter said.

The works themselves are focused on the process of sculpting and focusing on the materials used. Aegerter’s contributions focus on the landscape and the raw resources that go into sculpting. She integrated wood, epoxy clay and sand to create desert scenes, complete with cracks like those of a dried up creek bed.



Pao created a video — part of an ongoing series of hers — focused on looking out the window during COVID-19. She covered one of the gallery’s windows with clay, allowing it to crack as the window cooled and heated, letting in small batches of light, inspired by the different light coming through her window throughout the day. She took the pieces of clay that broke off from the cracking and blended them into a glass orb, which also cracked. And she composed a poem that was read at the artist meet-and-greet, titled, “It’s the cracks, not the dream.”

“The pieces of mine are all directly related and generated out of the video,” Pao said. “I have a lot of interest in the work taking on its life and going from there. … How the glass and clay interact and also create tension and create cracks that also makes something unique to itself. You’re like almost recording the process of that tension, almost like a scar.”

Deroualle’s works focus heavily on the raw materials. She used ceramics and encaustic to create a trio of wall pieces that resemble a mountainous landscape as viewed from high above.

Louis Deroualle’s “Terra Nebulosa” Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in “The Poetics of Sculpture” exhibition at the R2 Gallery in Carbondale on Oct. 6.
Rich Allen / Post Independent

“A lot of it has to do with the texture of the hand and just seeing the raw material so appreciated for what it is,” Aegerter said of the three pieces, entitled “Terra Nebulosa” #1, 2 and 3.

Deroualle’s other works are a collection of raw clay presented in natural environments in a series called “Process: Moments of Play.”

The exhibit reads as an homage to the process of sculpting and its materials, which was a theme that evolved after the work began. Aegerter said all the work “talked to each other” despite limited communication in the creative process.

“The description we wrote (for the show) was kind of like the start of the process, but then the work still had that information in it but became about other things,” Aegerter said.

The exhibition is open through Oct. 29 at the R2 Gallery at The Launchpad in Carbondale. Masks are currently required. More information is available at CarbondaleArts.com.

The website shows a 3D rendering of the exhibit, but Pao still wants people to come see it live.

“The virtual gallery is cool, but you don’t get a sense of the work,” Pao said. “I don’t feel like this is something you can even touch on getting a sense of this show by the website.”


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