Last Thursday, I got to see some of Maccabee Shelley’s pieces in the Max L. Gatov Gallery. The materials used included melted glass, ceramics, paint, and latex. The sharp pieces make the installations look more exaggerated and angry and somber, especially with dark hues used. At the same time, it’s very fluid, as the melted glass drips down in a long, hardened string to the ground. The texture is jagged, with the fired glass & ceramic pieces lumped together.
Shelley’s art is inspired by an artist named Tony Marsh as well as his previous artwork endeavors, so his projects bounce off each other in a snowball effect. He started taking art seriously 5 years ago, back in 2010, but his love for Ceramics started 8-9 years ago in his high school class. His ultimate goal is to make work and share it, and to be able to keep doing that throughout his life.
Shelley puts a lot of effort in making his pieces, playing with the different components and arranging the clay. He would scavenge through dumpsters, acquire bottles from classmates, or look for materials online. He would make a bowl out of clay, then fill it with glass, fire it, flip it upside down, apply more colors, elevate it in the kiln, and then fire it again as the glass dripped down. He would stop it at the point where he saw fit. Afterwards he would use a torch and fire to add more specific elements.
It seems that Shelley likes to make abstract, impactful art, and allows viewers to find their own meaning in it. He definitely enjoys the process. When I think about the specific piece pictured, it reminds me of the movie “Inside Out”. There’s all these islands, or “pillars” of our life, whether it be love, childhood, family, hobbies, etc., that are connected in some way. The glass sticks represent the links, and we, as individual people, are the ones that give it character, and embody the diverse components that we are made out of.