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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Ceramics, mini-toys turn life-size at NW art show

By Ciaran Lambert/reporter

NW Campus opened its newest art exhibit Manufactured Scale, showcasing the artwork of the two newest NW art associate professors, Christian deLeon and John Hartley.

DeLeon’s work is a mix of videography, photography and ceramics while Hartley’s is the still life and nostalgia of miniaturized toys blown up to an almost lifelike scale.

DeLeon described how his love of scale plays into his designs.

“I’d be this big [he points to the ground], and it’d be that big [he points above his head],” deLeon said. “I love science fiction, Star Wars and Star Trek, scales that are larger than life.”

DeLeon said he grew up learning traditional art through the use of ceramics and that while he grew up creating the permanent, he wanted to experiment with the impermanent.

“Clay that’s in its raw form, like the earth’s surface, you could show anything you wanted — creation, destruction, decay, fire, water, air, the elements and rebirth,” he said.

After setting up a camera attached to a tripod, deLeon mixes three different types of clay together in an acrylic vat and films the whole process. He mixes red earth, white clay or porcelain and stoneware together to create his images. One image, Clay, Light, Motion 04 #1, appears to depict the birth of life while the other, Clay, Light, Motion 04 #2, appears to show the death of a star.

DeLeon said his process is most important to him, and anyone who visits the exhibit can see that process. Along with the artwork, deLeon has a projector to show his hands at work creating Clay, Light, Motion 04. DeLeon relates his process to that of a math teacher.

“Math teachers don’t just want a student to write down the answer,” he said. “He wants them to show the process by which they found the answer. That’s what really matters. I love it when students show their process.”

DeLeon describes his work as using traditional media in non-traditional ways.

The other side of the exhibit belongs to Hartley and his work, paintings of antique miniaturized toys.

In Second Amendment, two gunmen stand opposite each other, one with gun in hand, the other with bullet hole in chest.

The gunmen are actually no taller than 6 inches but Hartley’s style and composition make them appear life-size and that the observer better duck.

Hartley said the piece features multiple meanings. Students at the opening offered different interpretations of Second Amendment: “nostalgia,” “armed conflicts,” “death” and “who’s the fastest.”

Hartley believes the toys take on more of a nostalgic feel for most onlookers.

“It takes you back to playing cowboys and Indians when you were younger,” he said.

Hartley said he chooses to work with toys that are beat up because they have the best stories. They were the favorites of the previous owner.

Another of Hartley’s paintings, Military Cycle No. 2, shows an antique soldier riding a motorcycle toy.

Hartley said he found it weird that parents would let their children play with military toys at such a young age. It was almost like they were trying to help the child choose what to do.

He also said he found it interesting that the toy was made out of lead and that lead toys may have been a cause of lead poisoning in children.

Hartley said he never planned to work with toys.

“The toy thing happened by accident. I couldn’t get people to model for me, and it was frustrating,” he said. “I saw this antique Army soldier toy, and I started to draw it. It didn’t move. It let me capture it.”

Hartley said that the idea for Second Amendment came from a conversation with a woman in Russia. He mentioned his fear of the Russian mafia, and the woman started to laugh.

“She asked me what I had heard about Russia, and I explained what I had heard about the Russian mafia. Then I asked her to tell me what she had heard about Americans, and she asked me, ‘Do kids really kill kids?’ And that question just blew my mind and really made me think,” he said.

He said that another perspective of Second Amendment is the realism of gang violence in our world today.

“It’s like the Old West but with a different costume,” he said.

Winter Rusiloski, NW associate art professor, organized the event as sort of a “coming out” party for the newest art faculty and to show students and the public what they could do.

“I think our campus has the most excellent faculty and that these two are very much a part of that,” she said. “Introducing them to the TCC community was very much a positive thing to do.”

DeLeon received his master’s degree from Notre Dame while Hartley earned his at Texas Christian University.

Hartley serves as gallery director and exhibition coordinator of Gallery 414 in downtown Fort Worth. DeLeon has his own YouTube, Facebook, WordPress and Flickr pages that showcase his process and more of his work.

Manufactured Scale is in the WFAB Lakeview Gallery on NW Campus until Nov. 6. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

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