Sculpture, prints on display in graduate exhibits


Hannah Saad

Logan Doctson

By Logan Doctson | Staff Reporter 

Tobias Layman and Checa Baldarelli each seek to express a message through their art. Over the past several days, both third year graduate students have been presenting their master of fine arts thesis exhibitions. Layman’s artwork has been featured at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, while Baldarelli’s still life is being shown at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery.

Layman, whose exhibit is a kinetic sculpture – meaning it has movement – majored in ceramics at Jacksonville State University and then came to the University to pursue a master of fine arts in sculpture.

“Both mediums, ceramics and sculpture, are fascinating to me,” Layman said. “They offer a lot of possibilities for creating art pieces and they have a lot of technical aspects as well. So, there is always something new to explore and experiment with and that curiosity keeps my interest and passion going.”

Layman has always been interested in creating art and working with different art methods. Specifically, Layman became passionate about kinetic sculpture because of how captivating moving art is.

“Things that move are fascinating and I want people to physically engage with art,” Laymman said. “I ignore the gallery rule of ‘don’t touch art’ and one way to get people to break that rule too is by making them have to touch the art. Kinetic sculpture fulfills both those ideas. People enjoy moving things and if its moving people feel more comfortable engaging with the art work.”

Layman’s master of fine arts exhibit, “Out of Order,”  is made of wood, metal and found objects.

“There are six pieces in a gallery that is about 20 feet wide by 35 feet long,” Layman said. “When you walk in you are immediately engaged with my largest piece, ‘I Still Count Pluto.’ I installed blue push buttons on a few of the pieces to entice viewers and give them a little nudge to interact with the pieces. Against the glass, one piece swings baseballs precariously close to the window. As the viewers leave, they activate a piece with a motion sensor and are brought back into the gallery to experience it.”

Layman’s intent for the “Out of Order” exhibit is to get people to engage not only with his art, but with other viewers as well.

“My sculptures serve as ice breakers for conversation and the materials I use and the mechanics help bring in a broader diversity to the gallery,” Tobias said. “Art should be accessible to everyone and encourage everyone to interact with it.” 

While Layman’s thesis exhibit is a kinetic sculpture, Checa Baldarelli is skilled in printmaking.

Checa Baldarelli said that she didn’t have a defining moment when she realized that she wanted to be an artist.

“Ever since I was young I was creating things and making things that made me and the people around me happy,” Baldarelli said. “I knew at a young age that art was my passion and as I grew up I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Creating things with my heart, head and hands is the only thing that makes sense to me.”

While Baldarelli has grown fond of printmaking over the years, she originally disliked the art form when she was required to take Intro Printmaking for her bachelor of fine arts degree at Youngstown State University.

“I actually hated it at first,” Baldarelli said. “Printmaking is mainly about making multiples. You start with an image and recreate it a number of times as identical as you can. I am a messy and impatient person, so I was very frustrated by this at first. As I learned more about the process, I realized that I could take the technical skills and manipulate them to create unique, one-of-a-kind prints.”

Baldarelli’s master of fine arts thesis exhibition, “Leftovers,” was created from objects and materials that she’s collected around Tuscaloosa.

“These items have either been found on the side of the road, at the thrift store, or given to me by others,” Baldarelli said. “I take these items and manipulate them and change them to make them my own.”

Baldarelli wants “Leftovers” to project the idea that art can be made from anything.

“We generate a lot of debris on a daily basis,” Baldarelli said. “We are too quick to throw things away. These days people have the mentality of, ‘I can just get a new one.’ I aim to highlight how we can see potential in items that have been discarded and forgotten by others.”

Both exhibitions have gained a bit of attention since being presented.

“While I’m not an artist, I’ve always loved viewing other people’s art,” said Jennifer Tyner, a junior majoring in restaurant and hospitality management. “I went to see ‘Out of Order’ and ‘Leftovers’ and I was impressed by both exhibits.”

“Out of Order” is on display at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in The Arts Council Gallery through this Friday, March 30. The gallery is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. with free admission. “Leftovers” is on display at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery on campus in Woods Hall through this Thursday, March 29. The gallery is open from Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.