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Staff Pick: Sculpture of J.R. Ewing

This month’s selection was written by River Cortes, the head of Gateway’s Pottery studio. 
Photographs by Melanie Bernier


J.R. Ewing is the villain that Dallas fans love to hate, and Michele has sculpted him in clay. Michele was not a sculptor before joining Gateway in 2004, but now she delights in giving form to her favorite celebrities and animals.

Michele’s intention was to create a straightforward portrait of J.R. Ewing, and she has succeeded at that. But her process has left the piece with a curious energy. The portrait is comprised of disparate media: unrefined clay forms; acrylic paint, applied with evidence of masking and layered brushwork; and details drawn on with paint marker. All of these convey ostensibly logical information, but the unexpected combination of media creates an energetic interplay of harmony and contradiction.

As with much of the work by Gateway artists, the strength in Michele’s piece exceeds the intentional.  Its physicality makes it easy for the viewer to be engaged not only by what Michele has deliberately created, but by what she has incidentally allowed.

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