The District Clay Center presents a show of intriguing work by Russell Biles, a South Carolina ceramic artist who plumbs his own subversive impulses to create works that call for us to think deeply, reach out to those around us and act as communities to better the world around us.
In a major new work - Eagle Has Landed (400 Years of Occupation) - Biles casts a hard look at our domination of the natural world and asks us as a society to consider anew both the costs and consequences.
As Biles notes,
The exhibition Subversive Nature is my attempt to make a positive social contribution through art. The work exhibited reflects my subversive nature as well as my affinity with the natural world. By combining these elements, it is my hope to raise social political awareness by motivating the audience to do a good thing like vote, give blood or just think.
A CALL TO ACTION
Using two striking installations - VOTE and GIVE* - Biles vividly illustrates why acting for the common good is sometimes the greatest gift an individual possesses.
In keeping with Biles’ work as a Call to Action:
District Clay will donate 25% from the sale of each political figurine from Biles VOTE piece to a political action group. (Pre-show sales begin Sept. 8th). See more here.
Russell has been working to protect endangered box turtles for years and his features them in his work. Come to a FAMILY FUN WORKSHOP with Russell and decorate your own box turtle shell and learn about this fascinating creatures.
Cass Johnson, the Executive Director at District Clay, explains Biles brings an important perspective to the DC art scene:
“With Russell’s work, you feel both outrage and hope. He feels injustice or apathy deeply – his work can be biting – but he never loses hope. His work is a testament that by coming together, talking to one another, finding common ground each of us has the power to improve our collective lot. In our current political climate, I don’t think there is a more appropriate message for Washington DC. We are very proud to share his work.”
A self-described “son of the South,” Russell Biles was born, raised, and still lives in the southern U.S. He remembers playing around with clay at a young age, making animals and monsters, but it was not until he entered college to study architecture that he was re-introduced to art and ultimately to ceramics. Since his graduation Biles has been a studio artist in Greenville, SC.
Biles uses such American icons as the Cleavers and the Cartwrights as well as contemporary newsmakers to satirize social, religious, and political issues and to engage the viewer in the discussion. Biles employs irony and satire in his work and believes that the humor inherent in satire tempers the critique and hopefully produces a thoughtful reaction rather than an automatic rejection. As important to Biles as the message is the craftsmanship of his work, the quality that gives the work integrity and cements his position as a noted artist whose work is included in a number of both private and public collections.
Biles’ work is held by the Museum of Art and Design, NY; the Essex Peabody Museum, MA; and the Mint Museum, NC, among many other.