By Emily Francisco
This month the Schmucker Art Gallery features the works of Ronald Gonzalez, a sculptor with unique visions. Approaching the concept of found objects with a new mentality, his pieces are a profound addition to the gallery this semester.
Born in Binghamton, New York, the artist has worked from his garage studio since the mid-seventies. He aims to create sculptures that are personifications of death and loss while creating grotesque and witty narrative statements. Gonzalez received his Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York, where he currently teaches as Professor of Sculpture. He has also taught at Cornell University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an Artist in Residence. In the past his works have been on display in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and in numerous other galleries across the nation and worldwide.
Gonzalez is a self-proclaimed collector of “found objects, historical references, and enigmatic associations.” He acquires his inspiration from the various collected materials in his studio. In the past he has used items such as dulled tools, bicycle handles, a toaster, an accordion, a welding mask, and silverware. Constructing box-like human forms out of these objects, he welds the pieces together before using wax, paint, and carbon to finish them.
Each figure has a rectangular body with lanky steel limbs, fixated at a metal base. The carbon medium blackens the pieces, giving the appearance of a charred or burned figure. Because the pieces are arranged in the gallery in militaristic rows, gallery visitors get the impression of a sinister statue army as they walk into the space.
Gonzalez imbeds a different theme into each sculpture. One piece, titled Compression, has the air literally squeezed out of its body. Its head is made out of a pressed accordion; its torso is made out of a contracted camera bellows. This sculpture is intended to represent “breathless nonexistence.” Another piece, titled Skull, is made out of a bicycle seat. Sliced and gashed to mimic the human skeleton, this one has a ghastly mood that reminds the viewer of a radioactive explosion.
Deeply intriguing and fascinating to the eye, Ronald Gonzalez: Private Collection will be exhibited in Schmucker through March 11, 2011.