We wrote about Shannon Goff’s ghostly car sculpture on view at the Susanne Hilberry Gallery (Ferndale, September 19 — November 14, 2015). That exhibition is supported by an army of Goff’s ceramic sculptures— thin, wiry, and colorful constructions. As with Ron Nagle’s sculptures, the names of Goff’s works are evocative, teasing your brain into a narrative space it may not have reached on its own.
Above image: Shannon Goff, Sourpuss, 2015, 18.5 x 18 x 18 inches
Writing for Hyperallergic, Sarah Rose Sharp states that the sculptures are made of “paper clay,” a material that has a cellulose fiber structure which apparently looks like tubes when viewed under a microscope. The artist told the writer that she uses the material because it appears thick while remaining light. Sharp states:
This micro focus on structure is critical, because Goff’s ceramic and clay works strive to build what she calls “sculpted drawings” into three-dimensional space. Each of these has a free-associative feeling of a child’s drawing, enhanced by the palette, which mostly renders any given piece in a wash of a single matte pastel shade, collectively reminiscent of a pack of standard-issue street chalks.
Goff says that the works began life as doodles or bundles of rubber bands. Form and substance can be seen underneath the chaos and they have some help crystallizing through titles such as Brace Face. Sharp states of their structure:
The architecture of abstracted shapes gets to be increasingly complex as Goff’s sculptures rise from trivet-like forms just a few inches off the table to the towering creation, “Doyenne,” which stands 82 inches high. This unfired clay piece was built within the gallery space — the only way to manage such a large and delicate contiguous construction. The name, which refers to an older, well-respected female, is a nod to Susanne Hilberry, who for years has been a critical facilitator of the arts in the Detroit Metro area, and whose gallery has been one of the first meeting points between the wealthy communities in the suburbs and the creative forces brewing within city limits. She passed away after a long illness just a few days before Goff’s opening, so in a sense, as the Detroit art scene lost a doyenne, Goff built a new one in her image.
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