Stephen Heywood & Sarah Alexander: Material Systems May 24 2014

Stephen Heywood and Sarah Alexander
Material Systems

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 7, 4 - 7pm
Exhibition dates:June 7-July 26, 2014
Artists' Talk: Saturday, June 21, 4pm

New Smyrna Beach, FL–– Arts on Douglas announces the opening of a two-person exhibition entitled Material Systems, featuring ceramic sculptures created by Stephen Heywood and abstract paintings by Sarah AlexanderMaterial Systems will be on view from June 7 through July 26, 2014 with an opening reception, for the artists, on Saturday, June 7 from 4-7pm and an Artists’ Talk on Saturday, June 21 at 4pm. The opening reception, exhibition, and Artists’ Talk are free and open to the public.

Stephen Heywood’s ceramic sculptures and Sarah Alexander’s explorative paintings share a process-driven approach to their artistic practice. Those processes are visible on the surface of Heywood's utilitarian forms and Alexander's topographical style paintings, revealing the symbiotic relationship between forms, concepts, materials, and artistic intervention.

Heywood draws inspiration from industrial, mechanical, and man-made forms and materials. His sculptures reference familiar architectural and utilitarian forms such as barns, silos, factories and water towers. Other elements, such as chimneys, windows, vents, smokestacks, piping and graphics are added for visual interest. The artist explains: "Many of these buildings are used for containment and are in essence vessels of function. These buildings often reveal their course of production and history on their surfaces."Combining form, function and artistry,  Heywood's sculptures have an embedded history that exists beyond the surface. "I often leave marks on the form as evidence of the working process. These subtle marks are then accentuated by the firing process and help to give my work the same sense of history and aged qualities," Heywood stated. 

Nature and its complex processes serve as a guiding metaphor for Alexander's topographical paintings. "My work is about the struggle of chance and choice. Notions of gravity, flow, erosion, and time co-exist in a space that creates a field to which I respond. I have little control over the initial phenomena, only how I choose to reply to it, if at all," explains Alexander. The artist uses techniques that yield both predictable and spontaneous outcomes. Along with brushwork, Alexander uses the natural forces of gravity to apply paint to the surfaces of her paintings. She tilts and turns her support in order to manipulate how the paint flows across the surface. She then scrapes or sands the surfaces to reveal cumulative layers of paint. Alexander's process manages to achieve a balance between chance, materials, techniques, and artistic volition, resulting in a topography of color.

Stephen Heywood received his Bachelors of Science Degree in ceramics from Southern Utah University and his Masters of Fine Arts Degree in ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Heywood exhibits his work extensively and has participated in over 200 national juried shows and invitationals. In 2004 Heywood was selected to represent the United States in the First International, Ceramics Journal Editor’s Symposium, Emerging Artist exhibition, in Xian China. In 2011 Heywood participated in and won the Craft Award in the Westmoreland Arts National in Westmoreland Pennsylvania. In 2013 he was awarded an honorable mention at the 8th Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Cheongju, Korea. He is a member of The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts and a board member for the Florida Crafts Council. Selected publications include: 500 Cups, 500 Bowls, The Best of 500 Ceramics, Image Transfer on Clay, Printing on Clay, the Periodicals Clay Times and Ceramics Monthly. He is currently an Associate Professor of Ceramics at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Sarah Alexander received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design and her Masters of Fine Arts Degree in painting and drawing from the University of Florida. She has participated in many group exhibitions in Florida and Georgia. Sarah Alexander is an instructor at Flagler College, St. Augustine and Florida School of Arts in Palatka where she is currently the Gallery Director.