EXHIBITION ON DISPLAY: October 21 through November 25, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, October 21, 2017, 6 to 8 pm
Perpendicular to the Force of Gravity, an exhibition of new cast bronze
sculptures by Beverly Penn, will be on display October 21 through November 25
at William Campbell Contemporary Art. The gallery will host an opening reception
Saturday, October 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition-her first solo
show at the gallery-will include Penn's signature metal constructions generated
from botanical forms and exploring nature's innate drive to propagate, even as
humankind seeks to categorize, manipulate, and control it. A suite of six
botanical monoprints, the genesis of this latest body of work, will accompany
the new sculptures.
"Our relationship with the natural world is increasingly in turmoil," says
Penn. Her plant-based bronzes reflect this idea in their precise, idealized
patterns and patinas that cleanly fill a prescribed space, all the while
harboring a latent energy.
Penn's sculptures hang on the wall like vertical landscapes, visually mapping
the space they occupy and presenting the viewer with a complex array of ornate
lines and textures that call attention to the beauty of natural forms, both
inherent and manipulated. The artist describes their meandering patterns as
analogous to the rhizomatic structures present in the weeds and other invasive
plants informing her work. Like these underground growth systems, the bronze
leaves and tendrils reach out in all directions: expansive, multiaxial, and
perpendicular to gravity. The resultant sprawl evokes a controlled
chaos-nonlinear, complex pathways meticulously arranged and contorted to
serve a specific aesthetic purpose.
"Although the castings are incredibly lifelike, the configurations are
nothing like what one might encounter in nature," Penn says of her latest
work. If fact, it conjures a sense of the absurd, commingling the organic
with the industrial to echo the tenuous nature of a world that hangs in the
balance. She strives to point out how we remain inextricably connected to
and interdependent on our environment-even as we at once revere and disrupt
it. In the wake of our actions, nature becomes plastic and unrecognizable,
eventually transforming into what she calls a manufactured aesthetic.
Penn employs a centrifugal casting process, which uses the force of intense
outward motion to spin bronze into the negative space remaining after the
plants disintegrate during firing.
Often found in the jewelry industry, this method is most effective for the
small pieces she works with, as it retains the intricate details in every
component, while also giving the artist broad range to configure the final
sculpture. Penn designs as she goes, soldering individual plant segments
together only after responding to each on its own. "Each one has a different
mark that it makes and a different line that it forms," she says.
Ultimately, Penn's bronzes become a type of memorial to the lost plant-and to
the wider concerns of climate change and the memory of such natural elements
already lost. Penn says, "The notion of a memorial, especially as it refers to
loss and remembrance, is significant in times of irreversible climate change
and extinction. Yet a memorial also links us to desire so it is equally hopeful,
because it is in the idealized natural spaces that we cultivate in our
imagination and in our world that our best intentions thrive, flourish, and
ABOUT THE ARTIST
For more than twenty years, award-winning Austin artist Beverly Penn has
exhibited her cast bronze sculptures extensively, in galleries, museums,
and public settings. Her pieces have appeared in venues across Texas, in
Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio,
and throughout the United States in New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati,
Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Santa Fe, and Washington,
D.C., among many others.
Penn's work has appeared in such publications as Art in America, Artlies,
Metalsmith, the New Art Examiner, Sculpture magazine, the New Orleans Art Review.
She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a Rockefeller Foundation
residency in Bellagio, Italy; a Connemara Conservancy Artist Grant; grants from
the Texas Commission on the Arts; and a Fulbright Fellowship in Barcelona, Spain.
The Texas Legislature and Texas Commission on the Arts recently named Penn the
State of Texas 3D Artist for 2017.
Penn's sculptures are included in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt Museum
in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Austin Museum of Art, the
El Paso Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in
Washington, D.C. She has been commissioned for several public art projects,
including Unity in Diversity in Las Cruces, New Mexico; the Community Core
Sample Project and the Threshold Project with Steve Wiman in Austin; and the
Carté Hilton Hotel in San Diego.
Beverly Penn earned her MFA from the State University of New York at New Paltz,
her MA from New Mexico State University, and her BFA from the University of
Texas at El Paso. She currently serves as a tenured professor in the School of
Art and Design at Texas State University in San Marcos.
About William Campbell Contemporary Art
William Campbell Contemporary Art is pleased to announce its 43rd Anniversary
having opened on November 24, 1974.
Through the years, Bill and Pam Campbell have become an integral part of the
Texas art scene. They have dealt with some of the most important artists of
the day, as well as some of the most promising ones that have come to their
notice. Many of the latter have become the former.
The years have brought an ever-widening circle of involvements in the art world,
as well as a life beyond anything ever expected. "We still get excited about
seeing a great work of art for the first time and feel tremendous joy every
time our efforts bear fruit on behalf of an artist."
The Campbells' community involvement has included leadership roles and
behind-the-scenes support of worthwhile activities. Their deepest satisfaction
has been in connecting several generations of artists and collectors with one
another, within the gallery and beyond to the national and international level.
"Watching and being a part of artists' thriving careers has been exceedingly
Bill and Pam Campbell would like to thank friends, associates, several
generations of collectors, the community, the media, and a host of great
artists for a wonderful forty years.
William Campbell Contemporary Art
4935 Byers Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76107
PHONE 817-737-9566, FAX 817-737-5466