National exhibit to include work of resident artist

Caitlin Mehan, Reporter

The artwork of a university instructor has been accepted into an exhibit at a national art show.

Skip Sensbach, artist in residence,  submitted a sculpture for consideration into the Foundry Art Centre’s “Given Form” exhibit.

“I found an entry form at Marywood [university], and after reading it and the bio about the judge, I felt that my piece was a good piece for the show. So I submitted three pieces and was notified that ‘Leverage,’ an eight-foot high, four-foot wide sculpture was accepted,” said Sensbach.

According to the Foundry Art Centre website, the exhibit  is a juried exhibition open to artists working in any sculptural media, including  paper, wire, clay, wood, metal, glass, plastic, and fiber.  Artists are invited to explore themes of their choosing, as long as the work is sculptural.

Sensbach made the piece a year ago for a Marywood faculty art show, and he said it had been sitting in storage.

“So when I came across a call for entries for the show, I felt it was a good show and an out-of-the-area show, which is why I entered,” said Sensbach.

The Foundry Art Centre is in St. Charles, Missouri, the farthest exhibit in which Sensbach has ever had a piece shown. The trip to deliver the piece was an experience for Sensbach, who drove with his son for three days and covered 1,560 miles.

“Any farther than that and the piece will have to be small and shipped because the drive was exhausting.”

“Up until now, the farthest away I had my piece was in Ohio. The Ohio “Plus 6,” [was] a seven state bicentennial that was in Athens, Ohio. ”

Sensbach has always been interested in art and was involved in art classes during his high school years. By junior year, he decided that he wanted to attend art school. He went to Kean University and received a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design.

Sensbach discovered clay eighteen years ago, left graphic design behind, and has focused on sculpting.

“From graphic design I found clay and started working with pottery with a women named Cindy Parrs. I worked as a functional potter making bowls, cups, and stuff for ten years, but these pieces only express so much and sculpture can express so much more,” said Sensbach.

“Sculpture can convey a broader message and concept than a mug or bowl ever can. Working with sculpture also satisfies my need for engineering,” said Sensbach.

The thought of sculpting new pieces is inspiring, he said.

” The challenge of creating a piece that large and fire it and put it together is a bit of an engineering challenge.”

“Firing” is a term that means to transform the clay from its soft state into a hard, tough and strong ceramic.

Sensbach said he particularly enjoys making his pieces fit into our world in human scale.

“I like to work at the scale because I want these pieces to exist within the human form, unlike a pedestal piece that separates the piece, designing a piece that does not need a pedestal to stand up, that we can interact with them and they become part of the environment not separate from the environment.”

The manual labor needed to create a work of this size adds to the character of the sculpture, he said.

“The physical labor, and the physical aspect to move them and put them together plays into the overall meaning of the piece.”

Sensbach chose the name “Leverage” because it speaks to the idea of moving things with great mass.

He said his sculpture work generally focuses on what he call “clay dimensional lumber,” which includes clay, wire, and other common materials.

Wire is a very important component of his creations, he said.

“Wire is a method of binding pieces together. Wire holds a lot of meaning by it’s not being bounded permanently. The pieces come together to work as a whole cohesive piece, the idea of bringing diverse materials and bringing them together through wire to work as one unit.”

The works seem precious, like they are likely to fall or tip over at any time, although Sensbach said they are solid and stable.

“It is the perception of the precarious nature that shows the working-class materials that the working-class would use everyday in their work could be used to make sculptures of art. ”

The show includes pieces from 26 states, as well as Canada.  The exhibit runs from Nov. 13 through Dec. 26.  More information is available at http://www.foundryartcentre.org/given-form/