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Sylvia Ramachandran Skeen solo exhibition at the Weight Room Gallery

Ramachandran Skeen-Sylvia-Grandmothers Bronx Poppyfield

MFA Alum and Adjunct Professor Sylvia Ramachandran Skeen will show new work in her solo exhibition Dream Machines, at the Weight Room Gallery. The exhibition is on view February 4 to 17, with an artist reception on Saturday, February 4, from 6-8pm.

Location: Brigham Young University Department of Art, West Campus Central Building, 1125 North University Avenue, Provo, UT.

Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm

Dream Machines

In modern times, the machine has become a common metaphor for the human body. Dreams and spiritual experiences, while they may seem less real to some people, can be as important to our wellbeing and growth as our physical experiences and body systems are. They can help center our priorities, balance our relationships, and move us to courageous and creative action.

Dreams and visions (what the artist likes to call waking dreams) are insights that come in the form of visual metaphors. The imagery in this ongoing series of sculpture is based on a wide variety of dream sources, both historical and personal. As Carl Jung suggested, the parts of dreams we remember are usually fragments of a larger symbol system that we may not fully comprehend at first, and so the dream narratives are depicted here as fragments of unknown machines—like archeological discoveries brought up from the subconscious.

The artist uses earthenware clay to hand-build or throw components on a potter’s wheel, specially designing them to fit found machine parts. The clay is then screen-printed and painted with a variety of colored clay slips and glazes including terra sigillata, a technique developed by ancient Greek and Roman potters, and fired multiple times, adding color and detail in each firing. Finally, the ceramic elements are mounted with the machine parts.

The artist would like to thank the Brigham Young University Art Department and its donors for supporting the creation of this work, U-Haul Shop 264 for donating the truck parts used in the pieces, and her husband Gary Skeen for his enthusiastic help with engineering the mounts.

What I hope people get from this exhibition:

I hope this exhibition will pique visitors’ curiosity about the value and function of dreams. I hope viewers will come away with the sense that dreaming is an experience that people of all ages, creeds, and time periods share—an experience that can be meaningful and unifying.

What I learned:

This project gave me the opportunity to explore several new directions and problems in my work, including how to use narrative imagery effectively in three-dimensional space, how to create a sense of unity when using a diverse range of materials, and how to attach these different materials together. This project is also the first time I’ve seriously explored the use of wheel-thrown components in my sculptural work.