For all of its potential grandeur and fantasy, the realm of visual art is perhaps most powerful when it accentuates the beauty that we take for granted every day. It can be startling to see just how intricate the very spots of light around us can be and how powerful and fragile our natural world is on its own.
One of the everyday forms most often elevated through artistic rendering is the human body. Though we live with and around it constantly, it often takes artistic study and presentation for us to truly contemplate our bodies as objects worthy of admiration. For a comprehensive example of this, consider the latest show, “Alicia Ponzio Talks Sculpture: Commission to Installation,” on view at Franklin’s Haynes Galleries until January 31, 2020.
Though Ponzio is primarily known for her finalized bronze sculptures — busts and figures that emphasize form and feature — this show also presents the work that she does leading up to and outside of such creations in other media. Thus providing a full spectrum, from “commission to installation.”
“Graphite drawings … show how Ponzio contemplates the body, its pose and our view of it before even reaching for clay,” the gallery explained. “The bend of a knee, the slouch of a shoulder and the tilt of the head each add meaning to the overall design. Plaster sculptures, although traditionally a creation on the way to a final bronze sculpture, show how Ponzio works through her design in three dimensions. Space, light and shadow are now thought through in her plaster sketches.”
Viewing the work in this collection, it’s worth considering how these initial studies inform the “irregular” finishes (reminiscent of Rodin’s) of Ponzio’s final pieces. The sensitivity with which she renders her subjects is apparent in each step of the process.
“Ponzio favors asymmetry, irregularity and variety in design: qualities that suggest a human touch,” per Haynes Galleries. “Her bronzes, which can range from miniature to large-scale, multiple figure pieces, mesmerize with their sensuality, tenderness and intensity. Every element is carefully considered, from the pose of the subject to the finishing patina once a bronze has been cast.”
In a Still Field, a freestanding figural sculpture in the exhibition, embodies Ponzio’s personal touch, tender reverence for shape and elevation of the human form. The nearly five-foot-tall female subject stands on one foot, projecting forward in a hesitant way, a forlorn look rendered on its face. Its apparent movement belies the title and its evident emotion defies the very nature of its medium.
“In a Still Field … reveals the final result of all the work and consideration,” according to Haynes Galleries. “From every angle it presents movement and emotion. The surfaces, from the polished granite base to the alternating shine and matte of the body, add to Ponzio’s narrative.”
Ponzio is a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps who went on to complete the sculpture program at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. She has also served as the director at the school’s Artistic Anatomy and Ecorche Sculpture programs. She is based in San Francisco and her work has been exhibited throughout the country and world.
Haynes Galleries is located in Franklin. Visits are welcome by appointment only.