The forms Virginia Scotchie creates for her Object Maker Series are abstract yet reminiscent of useful, functional objects. The familiar shapes draw the viewer in, but their abstraction keeps one guessing. Scotchie cites influences from a wide variety of mass-produced objects, pop culture, and—in the case of this work commissioned by the Museum—memories of her time here in Asheville. When the Object Maker Series works are displayed in a group of 12, set up like a clock, she calls the work Around the World.
Scotchie is part of the lineage of Asheville abstract sculptural ceramicists. Born in Virginia but raised in Asheville, she trained with Elma McBride Johnson (also on view in the Fantastical Forms exhibition) at the University of North Carolina Asheville, apprenticed with Don Davis—himself a student of ceramicist Norm Schulman of Penland, NC—and earned her graduate degree from Alfred University’s College of Ceramics in New York. Scotchie has headed the ceramics department at the University of South Carolina in Columbia for the last 27 years.
— Whitney Richardson, associate curator
Upon entering the 3rd floor, visitors are greeted with the Museum’s newest exhibition Fantastical Forms: Ceramics as Sculpture. Large works in the center of the floor command immediate attention while smaller works line the perimeter of the open Judith S. Moore Gallery requiring closer inspection. Each time I reach the top of the stairs, my gaze immediately falls to the back corner of the gallery where 12 colorful forms pop from the white walls.
Scotchie’s sculptures are incredibly playful and allow the viewer’s imagination to create a storyline. They also allow for a great photo op! Since these objects were inspired by Scotchie’s memories of Asheville, I search for the connections. Are they memories that I might relate to? In her artist statement, Scotchie says, “With this new body of work, I have continued my ongoing visual investigation of man-made and natural objects. Usually these consist of small things ordinary in many ways, but possessing a visual quirkiness that pulls me to them. In some cases, I am not familiar with the particular purpose, function or origin of the original object. Often this lack of information allows me to see the object in a clearer light. In some of the pieces, I have “borrowed” fragments of personal objects that have been passed on to me from a family member. Usually these are things that have only sentimental value: an old pipe of my fathers, a funnel from my mother’s kitchen or an old bulb from the family Christmas tree.”
Some of these objects are organic in shape leading me to imagine the microscopic natural world over that which we see with a naked eye. Other objects remind me of winter as I see earmuffs and a snowman. Some do remind me of the common household items and tools that Scotchie mentions, and I expect a few to produce sound including the yellow and purple objects. Is the dark blue object at the bottom a comment on pop culture? I especially enjoy that the blue crownlike sculpture sits appropriately at the top adorning the display. The consistently rough, almost mud-caked textures of the glazes are intriguing, and intense colors occasionally embellished with bronze glaze are unique.
What do you see in Scotchie’s objects? Do they prompt personal memories?
— Steph Wisnet, communications manager