In an era of contentious party relations and protest, resistance is becoming an increasingly large part of the current political climate. Ceramics artists Angela Carbone and David Bogus are turning this fight into art in their exhibit “Resistance,” the title of which references to the country’s resistance to the current political administration and its policies.
“We wanted our title to reflect that current conversation but also referencing the idea to resist settling for the status quo. It’s a resistance against the notion we need to look to the past to find American greatness,” Bogus said.
“We are voicing resistance to returning back into a country that only looks after the upper classes and their business interests, at the peril of the rest of world’s population,” Bogus continued. “It is a resistance to American exceptionalism, nationalism, conservatism, racism and all isms that impede the progress of making a better society here in the United States.”
The pieces featured in Resistance prompt analysis of cultural, social and economic issues in this political context presented by Carbone and Bogus. Carbone said the sculptures are intended to draw attention to social and political issues and beliefs.
“I strive to present truth and hope to connect with people by capturing a mutual social awareness … the work offers an appealing exterior impression in an effort to invite the audience to critically observe the world around them,” Carbone said.
Alongside Carbone’s pieces, Bogus is displaying his Optimist Luggage series, part of his larger installation, The Bogus Boutique. The Bogus Boutique line features high heel shoes, punk rock lock necklaces, anchors, oversized fishing hooks, knives, perfume bottles and a number of other brightly colored ceramic objects and status symbols.
The suitcases created for this instillation represent the struggle of living with or around those with mental illnesses, and the consequences of living in a society where such illness is highly stigmatized.
“The suitcases came to represent personal baggage, with brightly colored exteriors while keeping their interior contents secret,” Bogus said.
Bogus began production on the suitcases featured in the Resistance gallery in 2010, evolving this product line of Bogus Boutique pieces over nine years. In creating his work, Bogus said he focuses on three aspects of artmaking: conceptual concerns, formal issues and experimentation with materials and process.
“Each one of these facets help inspire new ideas and keep the work evolving by informing one another,” he said. “Some pieces like the optimist luggage series are created over a long period of time, and that adds to each aspect of these layers within the work.”
Both Bogus and Carbone trace their ceramic roots back to their high school experiences. Living in Somerset, Massachusetts, known for its pottery since the 1600s, Bogus took ceramics as a freshman. Likewise, Carbone began taking art in her first year of high school, with a specific interest in ceramics. The process, she said, came naturally.
Now, both artists are helping develop the next generation of crafters. Bogus has taught at the University of Idaho, University of Wyoming, Texas A&M and is currently an Assistant Professor of Art in Ceramics at Eastern Kentucky University. Carbone is an art teacher at the Living Arts and Science Center and Kentucky Mudworks. Both have shown their work across the country and maintain a presence in the studio, inspired to connect personal narrative and identity to universal subject matter.
“I observe and interpret opinions about finances, politics, gender and religion. I connect these interpretations to the mass audience and my own experiences,” Carbone said.
“All my work stems from aspects of identity, and when I think about using clay in my work, it reflects my origins, where I am from,” Bogus said.
The artwork in Resistance, Bogus said, is not for everyone. The artists find that repelling some is just as important as the work’s capacity to attract true adherents.
“I hope to inspire people to go out and change the world for the better, in whatever means they have …" Bogus said. "Enlisting like-minded comrades for the fight to make our society better than what we are at present is the impact I find most meaningful.”
Resistance opened at the Bolivar Art Gallery Feb. 15 and will remain open until March 15 at 4 p.m.