Cydney Ross' Structural Integrity, at Kiosk, breaks down architecture before we break ourselves
By Tracy Abeln of the Pitch KC
It’s nearly impossible for me to look at the title piece of Cydney Ross’s first solo exhibition, Structural Integrity, and not see a reference to the World Trade Center, destroyed on 9/11. But in this collection of eight large clay buildings and three smaller studies, the sculptor isn’t drawing such literal associations.
Architecture, her art reminds us, frames our space. It represents human intervention to change the environment, and then it, too, changes, altered by more human activity or by nature’s long rebuke. Ross, a 2013 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute’s ceramics program and an ArtsKC advanced fellow, is interested in the arc of various structures — bridges, skyscrapers, Asian pagodas, the iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol Building. She’s drawn to the process of construction as well as by what happens much later. The deterioration, sometimes due to neglect. The tearing down. And the decimation wrought by combat.
“To see built environments ravaged by war,” she writes in a statement for this show, “makes me wonder how we got here and where we’re heading as a society.”
She is an optimist, though — a ruins-half-full sort. Her buildings, which rise up in twisted ways from dark bases of rich, rough earth, are not representations of a done-deal apocalypse. We see broken shards, pylon pieces, bits of rubble, yet Ross makes this somehow beautiful. The ravaging hand at work seems to have been neutral, expressing not one or another side of a conflict but rather time’s passage. Her sculptures don’t answer questions as much as they ask us what we see: a coming together or an unraveling.
On the eve of her exhibition’s opening, at Kiosk Gallery, Ross told me she has tried to be politically active — attending protests, voting, donating to charities. She said she’d been inspired rather than discouraged by the conversations undertaken since the 2016 presidential election. But as an artist, she wants her work to transcend topicality.
“I’m consciously trying to channel the craziness going on,” she said. “Things are scary right now, but there’s an awakening going on. People are more willing to talk about issues they find taboo. We have a responsibility to talk about what’s going on in the world.”
The buildings in Structural Integrity, she added, are a kind of cautionary tale. What crumbles before us at small scale prods us to make a difference while there’s time, to change things now and maybe stay ahead of disaster.
Ross told me she’d been influenced lately by The Battle for Home, architect Marwa al-Sabouni’s 2016 book about Syria’s colonial-influenced built environment. Among its lessons is the way in which the Brutalist architecture imposed during the first half of the 20th century contributed to societal breakdowns. When we look at bombed-out concrete blocks in Homs or Aleppo, we don’t immediately recall that the buildings were not culturally native.
There are elements of this history in the works at Kiosk, with titles such as “Rise,” “What Will It Take,” “Structural Integrity” and “Calling In.” In the porcelain blocks waffled with windows, we see: “Please, let’s talk about invasion. Let’s discuss war.”
When Ross and I came to “The Badlands” — a low, compact sculpture whose stoneware base is stretched into geological spires sheltering a small, domed building that’s topped with its own reaching spire — she told me that it references an episode of sexual harassment. With #MeToo crescendoing on social media even as we were talking, I felt in Ross’s art the post-2016 collective openness to talk about what is keeping us fractured and in pain. “These problems have always been here,” she said. “They are just more apparent now.”
Take “The Weight of the World,” a masterful rendition of the U.S. Capitol’s neoclassical forms, slumped and sunk into an upturned bowl for a base, mirroring the dome above. There are broken buildings inside, a few of them painted with highlights of gold. Money in politics, America’s vast resources, the complicity of Congress (and its electors) in violence of all sorts — these themes roll around in the tension Ross physically captures in clay.
There is tension between control and chaos in all the works here, created through techniques such as overfiring terra cotta (basically burning the material until it fails) or freezing and thawing porcelain before it goes into the kiln (also a way to induce structural failure). Ross wants the unexpected to play a part in her sculptures at their creation. Natural forces (chemistry, gravity) outside of calculated control helped to build all of this art. And in every accident, Ross tells us, there may lie an opportunity — though taking advantage of any such luck to bring about change requires work.
Cydney Ross: Structural Integrity
Link to the interview on Artspeak Radio on KKFI 90.1 FM
Host/producer Maria Vasquez Boyd ushers in soon to be Halloween with guests that include artists/sculptors Cydney Ross, Ari Fish, KC Voices Tom Sullivan & Barb K. Roberts, and hijinx with KC Conjure owner Julie Valdivia & the incorrigible artist Mark Allen.
From October 25-28, 2017 the 27th International Sculpture Conference: Intersections + Identities will seek to bring sculptors and arts professionals together to discuss how our work, our practices, and ourselves intersect. Join us in Kansas City, MO for three days of programming where we will explore new communities and discuss exciting topics in contemporary sculpture. Visit www.sculpture.org for more programming information.”
Kiosk Gallery presents “Structural Integrity” – a solo exhibition by Kansas City artist Cydney Ross, featuring new ceramic sculpture works. Ross seeks inspiration in aging architecture, and the ways built environments shape communities and culture – comparing the influences of physical structures with the effects of government policy and political discourse.
The show runs through November 9th during open hours and by appointment; Kiosk will have some extended hours this month in celebration of the International Sculpture Center Conference in Kansas City.
Kiosk Gallery presents Structural Integrity – a solo exhibition by Kansas City artist Cydney Ross, featuring new ceramic sculpture works. Ross seeks inspiration in aging architecture, and the ways built environments shape communities and culture – comparing the influences of physical structures with the effects of government policy and political discourse.
The artist’s reception will be held Friday, October 20th, 6-9 pm. The show runs through November 9th during open hours and by appointment; Kiosk will have some extended hours this month in celebration of the International Sculpture Center Conference in Kansas City.
Friday, October 20th, 6-9 pm
ISC Gallery Hop Reception with the artist:
Friday, October 27th, 6-9 pm
Open Hours for ISC:
Thursday, October 26th: 6-9 pm (I'll be gallery sitting!)
Friday, October 27th: 12-9 pm
Saturday, October 28th: 12-5 pm
Regular Open Hours:
Fridays 12-6 pm, Saturdays 12-4 pm
38th ANNUAL ART WESTPORT
CYDNEY ROSS porcelain accessories located at booth 62 by Tea Drops:
- Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 — 1 pm to 9 pm
- Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 — 10 am to 9 pm
- Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 — 11 am to 5 pm
STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY at KIOSK GALLERY
My first sculptural solo show is to debut Friday, October 20th at Kiosk Gallery in Columbus Park.
FEATURED ARTIST at KC Urban Potters
Opening Reception: Friday, July 28th 5-8pm
Location: 4 Westport Rd, Kansas City, Missouri 64111
Join us for the opening reception featuring new summer wearables!
ARTIST INC ADVANCE PROJECT PRESENTATION NIGHT!
DECEMBER 9, 2015 | AIA | KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
We invite you to a very special evening featuring the 2015 Artist INC Advance class - 14 of some of Kansas City's most talented and driven visual and performing artists who have spent the past 9 weeks developing art projects they are now ready to share with the community.
On Wednesday, December 9, they will present their final projects and we will ask you to VOTE for the project you consider the most deserving of a $1,000 grant. This special event will include delicious food and drink provided by Howard's Grocery, Cafe, and Catering and the opportunity to spend time with each of the artists and learn even more about their projects.
From a Cuban music exchange to a pop-up art space in a vintage 1960 Airstream trailer, the Artist INC Advance projects span disciplines and reflect the diversity of vision and ambition in the local creative community.
The artists presenting include Debbie Barret Jones, Laura Isaac, Lisa Marie Evans, Annie Cherry Montgomery, Andi Meyer, Camry Ivory, Anson the Ornery, Michael McClintock, Kasey Rausch, Trilla Ray-Carter, Cydney Ross, Emily Evans Sloan, Casey Whittier, and the Minister of Information aka M.O.I.
Artist Facilitators for Artist INC Advance include Beau Bledsoe, Chris Dahlquist, Jose Faus, Erin McGrane and David Wayne Reed.
Hello everyone! SI-Design will have a booth set up at both the BCYS Holiday Sale & Open House on Friday, December 4th from 5-9pm and Saturday, December 5th from 10-4pm. This sale is part of the Kansas City Clay Guild's 33rd Annual Pottery Sale & Studio Tour. Come see me both days to find the perfect gift for your sweetie or early holiday present for yourself!
Belger Crane Yard Studios location: 2011 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri 64108
By the end of the weekend I'll switch gears and set up at Hello Art's Small Works & Holiday Sale. Join me at the stunning Hotel Phillips in Downtown KCMO on Sunday, December 6th from 10-5pm for live music, complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, Mimosas and Bloody Marys'! Our booth is located on the 3rd floor where musical guests will be performing.
Hotel Phillips location: 106 W. 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64105