Body Language: Hunter Stamps and Mike Goodlett
Body Language brings together a pair of artists who use a variety of media to create sculptures with a deep relationship to human flesh and form. Without being literal, their work suggests body parts and organs, the fluidity of desire, and both the joy and anxiety of living as physical beings.
Wilmore native Mike Goodlett grew up negotiating gender roles, given that his personal identity was distinctly at odds with traditional notions of masculinity; and his work often addresses that dissonance. To create sensual abstract shapes, Goodlett casts liquid plaster or cement in molds he makes of spandex, a fabric often used to shape flesh. Sexuality is encoded in the lushness of flower or plant forms or revealed in more overt phallic references. The artist’s pithy sense of humor emerges in a series of figurative sculptures he has assembled using pieces that fit together like a child’s building blocks. Imbued with quirky personalities, they range from sphinxlike figures that suggest historic monuments to whimsical beings.
Hunter Stamps, associate professor of ceramic sculpture at UK, has a profound knowledge of the properties and malleability of the clay that he often pulls into fleshy folds or builds into totemic figures. He begins by throwing shapes on a wheel and letting them dry just to the point he can still manipulate them. In time, Stamps seamlessly combines multiple pieces into sculptures that suggest fragments of bodies, organs, and orifices. He creates seductive surfaces by experimenting with glazes and materials such as rubber, encaustic, or resins. The finished forms seem both familiar and alien, creating a sense of recognition, but also tension and dissonance because the imagery cannot quite be deciphered.
Mike Goodlett was one of twenty artists featured in the 2019 Atlanta Biennial. He has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Christian Berst in New York, New York; Institute 193 in Lexington, Kentucky; John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and Tops Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hunter Stamps’ sculptures have appeared in more than 170 juried, invitational, and solo exhibitions in Austria, China, Croatia, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the United States. They are part of the permanent collections of the Cultural Center of Kapfenberg, Austria; the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in Jingdezhen City, People’s Republic of China; and the Keramikmuseum Westerwald in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany.
Top image: Hunter Stamps, Vicissitude, 2016, glazed stoneware. Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: Mary Rezny.
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