The Gallery at Penn College, on the third floor of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library, will host “Natural Elements,” an exhibit featuring the work of Bill Wolff and Marcia Wolfson Ray, from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11.
Wolff, a sculptor, uses trees to create gestural forms that reflect the conflicts and struggles in our daily lives. His work begins with models and drawings that are influenced by the constant push and pull of our wants and actions. Forms are reworked on a larger scale by carving and assembling wood using multiple hollow sections, a variation on a Japanese process.
“Object making is a way to try and make sense out of an increasingly complicated and scary world,” Wolff says. “Recently, my work has focused on themes of aggression, consumption, growth and place. I weave iconic forms into figurative and gestural shapes in order to comment on and question the built environment and culture in which we live.”
The surfaces and idiosyncrasies of the wood, a living material, are treated as equal partners. This body of work retains figurative elements and details, but the forms and movements are altered to create a broad appeal to the senses. Through scale, gesture, image and material, Wolff hopes the observers will see the objects as their peers.
Born and based in New York, Wolff works and exhibits nationally and in Asia. His work incorporates influences and techniques from diverse traditions, including Japan, where he lived and studied for several years.
Wolfson Ray believes that the sense of mystery at the center of life is echoed in the forms, rhythms and patterns represented in nature. She is influenced both by the beauty and the physical manifestation of nature: the geography of place, the season, the temperature and the light.
She collects her materials from nature, and that process is central to her artistic practice: the point of intersection with the materials serves as a catalyst to her imagination. At the same time, her work is influenced by what happens to the materials as they age.
“Some of the materials petrify and become stronger while others disintegrate, turning to dust,” Wolfson Ray says. “This gives me a hint of what I can build with them. The idea my imagination starts with may not mesh with the physical reality of the material I’m using, so I have to allow for a certain degree of improvisation that lets the work evolve and dictate its own form. I try to minimally impose myself so that, in a way, I am collaborating with nature.
“This is where I return to the sense of mystery, because all my conscious calculations may come to naught and all I am left with is a process that reveals itself in a most obscure way,” she adds. “There lies the excitement I feel when I’m working. It is my hope that the pieces convey to the viewer an intensity that transcends words.”
Wolfson Ray earned a Master of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art and has received numerous awards for her work.
The gallery will host a Meet the Artists Reception on Oct. 11 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with a gallery talk at 5:30. The gallery is open Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 7 p.m.; and Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Saturday and Monday). The gallery will be closed Oct. 19-21.