Bender Gallery hosts “Artifacts and Contraptions,” August 1-September 30

From a press release:

Bender Gallery hosts “Artifacts and Contraptions,” August 1-September 30

Bender Gallery is hosting Artifacts and Contraptions, a two person exhibition featuring glass and mixed media sculptures by artists Peter Wright and Audrey Wilson. The show runs from Friday, August 1 through September 30. An opening reception will be held from 5-8 PM on August 1 in conjunction with downtown Asheville’s First Friday Art Walk. Both artists will be attending the reception and will be available for questions and discussion.

Audrey Wilson is an emerging artist with a unique perspective on aesthetics and the conceptual narrative. Her multi-media sculptures are an amalgam of created and altered objects that explore the relation between man and technology.

Her body of work titled “The Aberrant Collection of the Spurious Calamus” investigates the role of invention in society. As she explains, “inventions are a continuous response to something that needs to be changed, a response to the needs of life. Without a brave, creative impulse, life would become a commonplace of interest. Yet, with just one thought many deficient prototypes are produced. Without these thoughts, advances could not be possible.”

The collection is one of ingenuity, focusing on the delicate yet durable hollow base of a quill, or calamus. The calamus is the strongest part of the feather which is often a symbol of bravery and wisdom. Each work is a representation of a real invention and invokes such symbolism. They illustrate a spark of human imagination combined with a form of some technological advancement, thus including the current state of the design.

Wilson states, “Technology is not the parent of human activity, rather the after-thought. It is the imagination that drives to create the content of the machine. The challenge counts insofar as man perceives it, as well as the innovation it took to create the modern product.”

Wright is inspired by indigenous art and utilitarian objects used by man throughout history. He takes a visceral approach to his work, creating vessels and sculpture rich in texture and color. Wright explains, “I think of myself as a sculptor who works with hot glass. I chose glass because of the way it moves when it’s hot, because of the ways it can play with light, because of the different surface treatments that can be applied. My work is acid etched to remove the shine. I want the viewer’s first response to be the form, not the material. Only on close viewing should they discover the piece is glass.”

Wright’s Mezcala sculptures are inspired by commonplace objects in pre-Columbian culture. These figures originally started out as ax heads and were presented as ceremonial gifts. The color and stone of the figure determined its importance.

The series of Animal Spirit Jars are a collaborative effort with artist Hib Sabin. The surfaces have a beautiful, soft matte finish and often feature dappled colors or web-like patterns that resemble cracks in ancient vessels. The lids are adorned with life-like, hand carved wood animals created by Sabin. The figures add an element of ceremonial significance to these powerful vessels.

Bender Gallery specializes in contemporary sculpture and is located at 12 S Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. There is a parking garage on S. Lexington Avenue behind the Aloft hotel as well as a garage on nearby Biltmore Avenue. The gallery’s hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 12 pm-5 pm. More information is available at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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