Exhibitions: Current | Upcoming | Past
Maxwell Van Pelt
September 8 – Ocotber 13, 2016
We open the 2016-17 academic year with an exuberant and dynamic exhibition of works by Catherine Bertulli and Maxwell Van Pelt.
The language used to describe ideas about art often utilizes a contextual vocabulary — one that can at times reflect or reveal the nuances of the human condition. This can be especially useful to describe works that are non-objective articulations of our circumstance.
Catherine Bertulli's current body of work is an expression of her evolution from traditional processes such as watercolor and gouache. Nonetheless, those experiences inform her approach to her new work. Bertulli etches and scores, folds and crinkles aluminum sheets into columnar forms, spirals, and tubes, all of which breathe a vibrant luminosity.
She has embraced conceptual ideas found in the work of Eva Hesse as well as the deep, rich surfaces that define work of artists such as El Anatsui and the ceramic glazes of the Sung Dynasty. But her work is ultimately rooted in the moment. At once luminous and vulnerable, intimate and vast, her work is an invitation to explore. Her manipulation of color and surface yields a vibrancy that is celebratory, and a hopeful expression of our better selves.
Maxwell Van Pelt began his journey as a student of architecture, and his work reveals and roams three-dimensional depictions of architectural expressions. He characterizes his approach as one of deep engagement with process that ultimately shapes meaning. He is a mindful explorer with a meticulous and elemental curiosity about the way things work. His work is lean and stripped down — a gathering of geometric shapes and structures. Color and form generate sparks of optimism — and reflect a delight in solving complex problems.
His work is intimate and expansive. In some ways they could be characterized as intricate and powerful drawings that read as dimensional explorations of place. They capture and reveal Van Pelt's creative process of thinking about the relationships between time and space, form and logic, the personal and the emotional.
Both Bertulli and Van Pelt make work influenced by minimalism — or rather use minimalism as a reference point. Both allow the character or quality of the material to impose itself upon form. Their search for meaning through the act of making is the reward we, the viewers, take away from the experience of seeing their work.
This collection of wall and floor sculptures represents a decisive evolutionary step from my previous figurative and abstract paintings in watercolor and gouache. In the earliest experiments that led to these works, I was captivated by the purity of the vibrant colors reflected from the underlying surface I have developed specific mediums to accentuate and enhance the luminosity of the pieces — I etch some surfaces with an acid bath, and have used both special acrylic paints and my own mixture of polyurethane and aniline dyes to achieve these brilliant light effects.
The wall sculptures are influenced by, most especially, the tactile works of Eva Hesse, the luminosity captured by El Anatsui and the integration of form and color in Sung Dynasty pottery.
The towering, columnar forms of the standing aluminum sculptures are surprisingly sturdy yet still fragile. With each site-specific installation the sculpture's edges and volumes vary slightly, reflecting my intuitive, immediate response to the space. The sculpture is finally animated when the individual components are placed in relation to each other and interact with the observer.
Fabricated with industrial grade foil, these works reveal my very direct process: I inscribe the surface with the handle of a wood spatula before painting in rich transparent color. Aluminum holds the memory of folding and creasing, jagged edges reveal the catching of a nail, the puddles and drips in the glaze are reactions to subtle differences in the surface that are hidden to our eyes — the intended and the fortuitous combine in the telling history of each piece.
My use of such simple materials invites a physical as well as visual response from the viewer, eliciting perhaps, a meditative dialogue on wonder and surprise.
Maxwell Van Pelt
Issuing from observation, my work draws a language of abstraction to realize meaning through the acts and processes of making. I promote the unfamiliar and demote balance, continually pushing to see my work with fresh perspective. My curiosity about the meaning and fabrication of objects lies in how sometimes, by means of implicit logic and little more, a set of unfolding relationships can lead eye and heart towards a final form — a vital remnant of attention and intention, of time, place, person, and culture.
I strive to ascertain and instigate a mindfulness that connects us sympathetically to our surroundings. The resulting works are optimistic, places where divergent attitudes, appearances, and forces have a tendency to converge and resolve in the necessities of cohabitation. The participation of a viewer allows these visual expressions to move from ambiguous to something specific and personal — the production richest in its potential not just to represent ideas, but to evoke them with frequency: regularly, and in appropriate tones.
As I respond to these inquiries, I have been making intricate sculptures, exuberant paintings, and hybrid installations that navigate the geometries of architectural, environmental, and emotional space together with the arising inscapes of my imagination. Regardless of media, the work anchors firmly in the experience of drawing and the exploration of dimensionality.
BFA, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
Grants and Residencies
Artist Residency, The Studios at Mass MOCA
Finalist, The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant
2016 Danforth Art Annual, Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA
2015 On the Edge, South Shore Art Center, Cohasset, MA
2015 Community of Artists, Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA
The Massachusetts Art Lottery, Melrose, MA, Recipient
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Maxwell Van Pelt
BA, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Awards and Honors
Future Generation Art Prize, Nominated artist
Jonathan B. Rintels Prize for the Class of 2011, Dartmouth College
Sudler Prize, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College
2014 Interstice, Candita Clayton Gallery, Pawtucket, RI
2014 Cross Currents, Deborah Berke Partners, New York, NY
2014 Open Lineation, Rooster Gallery Contemporary Art New York, NY
Nortek, Corporate Collection, Providence, RI
Legacy Paddlesports Inc, Corporate Collection, Fletcher, NC
Black Family Visual Arts Center, Dartmouth College Hanover, NH A