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Solo exhibition by figurative sculptor Wesley Wofford opens at The Bascom
Wesley Wofford uses the human figure to consider emotional issues that, for the most part are either polarized in the public media, medicated to dullness, or ‘swept under the carpet’. Photo: Susan Renfro.
HIGHLANDS, NC.- The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts is presenting the vision of Wesley Wofford as seen through the sculptures of his solo exhibition: ‘Beneath the Surface’. Sallie Taylor, Director of Exhibitions, states “Following in historical tradition, Wesley Wofford uses the human figure to consider emotional issues that, for the most part are either polarized in the public media, medicated to dullness, or ‘swept under the carpet’. This exhibition is presented in a powerful quietness that is certain to move a response from the viewer.” The show stresses the need for balance within our psyches, and confronts the notion that we are to be ‘forever happy and occupied’. It features twelve figurative works in various mediums and finishes from bronze to polyester to bonded marble. The centerpiece is the tragic piece, ‘The Sacrifice’, an 8-foot monumental sculpture that took a year and a half to complete. Wofford states “This sculpture is a reflection of how the decisions we make in modern society can affect the future and sometimes even the lives of children. The sculpture applies to many modern day issues, and war, poverty, predators, abuse, child labor, abortion, climate change, and national deficit, are just a few examples. But as I was working on the piece and contemplating all of the different culturally ingrained aspects of modern society that potentially have a negative impact on children, there were multiple school shootings across America. This affected me deeply, and definitely permeated into the composition.” In the sculpture, the oversized hand is a metaphor for an alter, but also represents us-the adults-and our decisions, many of which aren’t even choices but are just accepted as part of modern life, with the long term consequences never really being considered.

Upon entering the exhibition, the viewer is instantly emotionally engaged by the colossal piece across the black infinity pool that is centered in the room. Dramatic lighting and ethereal music, which is barely audible at points and rises to a crescendo, creates a compelling atmosphere of quiet contemplation. The varying patinas and finishes compliment one another and visually moves the viewer through the room to encounter the centerpiece on a more intimate level. One work, “American Love”, displayed in clay because there was not time to go through the molding and casting processes, was a last minute addition to the show. It is a guttural reaction by the Sculptor as a result of the multiple school shootings that occurred while working on the monumental ‘Sacrifice’ piece. “This piece reflects my anger towards the gun culture in America, and the fact that it has literally become a part of us”, Wofford says. Another work, “Contemporary Struggle”, explores the evolution of sculpture and how abstraction and non- representation are built on the foundations of the figurative tradition but are now threatening the relevance of figurative sculpture in the modern art scene. “Generation X”, an abstracted figure embracing a smartphone, speaks of how during the course of our lives smart phones and computers have become intrinsic to society. And “Surrender” confronts the vilification of nudity in American sculpture, which is widely accepted in public in European art but has never really been accepted in the United States.

Wesley Wofford is a classically inspired figurative artist with a contemporary edge that produces sculpture that speaks in an enduring yet modern voice. His sculptural style enlivens the surfaces with rhythm and textures that emphasizes the sculptor’s presence. Wofford presents his figures in two modes of expression: one very classically inspired and the other more contemporary and abstracted. The ‘modern’ works are more loose and dynamic, often presented with more bold colors and materials, creating a contrasting aesthetic dialogue within a collection. The juxtaposition of the two contrasting styles invites the viewers to relate very old ideas to their own lives, and to realize that a lot of the issues of humankind are timeless, but there are also many new issues that are specific to living in the 21st Century.

Wesley Wofford: Beneath the Surface
 Solo Exhibition
 May 24-August 17, 2014
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“The beauty of life is the variety of experiences, and our existence is a struggle, both physically and mentally. The rhythms of joy and melancholia are what define the human experience. But the pressures of modern society are trying to limit our conversation to focus only on what is positive or socially acceptable. Without the agitations of the soul to contrast them, there are no beautiful experiences. It is the tragedies and struggles that create the radiance of the positive moments, and through these we become more humble and grateful for the splendor that surrounds us.”
 -Wesley Wofford





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