Noah Isherwood, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor
Will Herington, Campus Carrier staff writer
The Moon Gallery currently features art by Dennis Ritter, visiting assistant professor in art. Ritter’s art exhibition, which opened on Oct. 28, is titled “Collect, Gather and Assemble.” Ritter is currently a visiting professor at Berry, teaching several sculpting and ceramic art classes. Previously an instructor at Louisiana State University, Ritter came to Berry to better incorporate his artistic vision and training into a smaller community. This vision has thus far culminated in Ritter’s “Collect, Gather and Assemble” exhibit.
This exhibit features several sculptures made from old figurines, radios and other various pieces from both Ritter’s previous work and his personal history. In graduate school he worked on larger slightly abstract pieces and wanted to create more representative work. He was inspired by writers John Updike and Jack Kerouac through his readings and research and took inspiration from how those writers used their own experiences to create characters relatable to the audience.
Ritter originally started this work over the summer with several radio sculptures and had no idea as to what direction he wanted to take with the exhibit.
“I’ll start with a list of things familiar to me,” Ritter explained. “Instead of having a sketchbook full of sketches, sometimes I have a sketchbook full of just lists.”
From there Ritter creates sculptures based from those objects and words. For this exhibit, he wanted to try something new and used the summer break to do just that. He ended up gaining inspiration from a book called “Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects” by Glenn Adamson. In the book, Adamson describes how people assign value to objects. Using this theoretical basis, Ritter started to make the figurine and radio sculptures.
For the figurine sculptures, he went to thrift stores around Rome and purchased old, forgotten figurines. Both his mother and grandmother had some of these figures, which gave them a personal significance to him. He then gave them new life through recoloring by dipping them in clay slip, which is liquified clay.
“It was like giving them value again and making them interesting again,” Ritter said. “You recognize them, you have a relationship to them, but now they’re changed.”
With his assembled pieces, he wanted them to play off of different elements and ideas, specifically about time.
“Some of the objects in here are things that I’ve collected over time,” Ritter said.
They consist of small parts of items he has held on to for a number of years, with most being pieces of his previous work. These items weren’t necessarily personal mementos, but rather parts of his former work that he could never give up. The assemblages are meant to be collections of parts from Ritter’s past, now making up an amalgamation of both old and new.
Ritter’s exhibit will continue until Nov. 22.