Art exhibit to show gathered items

PARKERSBURG – Marterial gathered from tunnels or a ravine or impressions made with adhesives will be included in an exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center opening Sunday.

“Trying to Be With You” will be the works of Ben Stout, the Fountainhead Fellow in sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., in the department of craft and material studies.

Stout said he began as what he called a functional potter, working first with ceramics, later he moved to sculpture.

Stout said he could be described as a contemporary artist. He said it is not traditional craft but brings in those who work with pottery studios, fiber studios and wood studios.

“I use ceramics but I use a lot of adhesives like tape and rubber,” he said. “It’s mixed materials, color prints, ceramics, gathered objects, not found objects but gathered objects.”

Stout studied ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute and received his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from Ohio University.

Stout said he gathered items from the Moonville Tunnel in Vinton County, Ohio, the Nelsonville bypass and the Church Hill Tunnel near Richmond, Va., and Tunnel 13 on the North Bend Rail Trail. He began his sculpture work while in graduate school.

He said his works take a new look at materials from sites.

“The work developed from a reevaluation of craft methods and a sort of expanded appreciation of functional sites,” he said. “The work in the gallery is made from a tunnel, a municipal thoroughfare. My process is a process of collection and gathering.”

Stout said that is why adhesives are useful. The works include metals, plastics, fiber marterial, all gathered.

The Church Hill Tunnel was a place where he found many materials.

“Part of the Church Hill Tunnel is part of a derelict ravine that has become a place for people to toss things,” he said. “The other side is surrounded by very expensive apartments.”

Stout said his work with adhesives is one that gives an impression of a surface such as a wall in a tunnel in the North Bend Rail Trail or a floor in a neighbor’s apartment rather than a rendering like a painting.

Stout’s show, “Trying to Be With You,” will be one of three shows opening Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at the Parkersburg Art Center, 725 Market St.

Stout said he will have seven sculptures and three color prints as part of the exhibit.