A Look at Artist's Denny Gerwin's Latest Exhibition
3D artist and Associate Professor Denny Gerwin’s captivating vision is evolving, raising more questions than answers
These four pieces from Denny Gerwin’s solo exhibition during the spring, “New Questions: A Body of Work,” represent an evolution of his sculpture since he joined the art faculty at Queens. Here he shares his thoughts about how they arise in his imagination and how they relate to one another—and perhaps to us.
1. BBW Venus Figure Saggar Fired Stoneware 2013
As an undergraduate I had a chance encounter with a social group in a hotel bar, a BBW Club (Big Beautiful Women) who got together every two weeks to go dancing. There was beauty in the way they moved, not only because it was unfamiliar to me socially, but also because of the volume and mass attached to their frames.
My first figurative sculptures of BBWs led to new questions about ideal beauty. In one attempt (not pictured here) to answer the question about why they weren’t considered conventionally beautiful, I imposed a structure around the figure as a restriction on that perception.
2. David and Goliath II Wood Fired Stoneware 2016
The image of a BBW in bondage wasn’t the story I wanted to tell, so I began to impose structures onto other figures, and focused on the image of a baby. The implicit vulnerability of a young person evokes empathy and raises cautious questions.
3. Future Generations IX Wood Fired Stoneware 2016
The pieces in the “Future Generations” series—which I began in graduate school— are topped with an abandoned and decayed cityscape. Trapped in the structure, the central figure carries an impossible burden as evidence of its demise. The newest pieces in this series morphed to include voluminous figures, like this one.
4. Now Everybody Knows Everything and Nobody Knows What to Do Wood Fired Stoneware, Steel Cable 2017
Moving on from the “Future Generations” series is this newest piece. I wanted to make the figure harder to identify. The only elements that are certainly human are the toes and fingers, and they take some examination to find. The title relates to a conversation I had with a master kiln builder about our new wood-fired kiln at Queens. He said, “It used to be that nobody cared about anything and you could do whatever you wanted, now everybody knows everything and nobody knows what to do anymore.”
Perhaps I love the quote because of the breadth of scenarios it applies to and the questions it may be trying to answer.