As important as it is for artists to interpret and refract the social issues of their time, visual art is often just as powerful when it provides a complete fantasy or escape from our fixed perception of reality.
As a showcase of this fantastical power, Bennett Galleries is now hosting the work of multimedia sculptor Mary Kinzel Means, a collection of ceramic busts depicting mythical figures and animals that project a serene and joyful energy.
“‘I aspire to capture lightness and fully embrace the spiritual feel of my work,” Means said in a statement shared by the gallery. “It may sound strange to some, but I can feel the energy come through the clay, almost like I’m capturing an image of a visitor from above. I feel only lightness when I work, stress and negativity seem to magically disappear the minute my hands get in the clay. I’m hopeful the gift of ‘lightness of being’ translates through my creations.”
No piece in the collection better captures this spiritual feel than Simon The Protector, a 10.5″ bust depicting a Romanesque winged figure. It appears that, rather than a representation of a specific myth, the piece was derived from the visit of a figure directly to Means as she worked. Its serene expression, inventive composition and handcrafted finish all contribute to its lightness of being.
Means’ ability to instill her work with such lightness and imagination may derive from her earliest experiences with art, as she observed her grandfather work in his own studio.
“My grandfather’s studio was mesmerizing, full of odds and ends with paintings strewn everywhere, the smell of turpentine thick, I was in awe!,” she said.
It’s comforting to know that memories like that, even from the very beginning of an artist’s journey, can ultimately elicit the same feelings of awe, no matter what else has changed.
Means studied art and psychology at the University of Tennessee. She is an award-winning artist and gallery operator whose work has been exhibited throughout the Southeast.
Bennett Galleries is located at 2104 Crestmoor Road in Green Hills.