CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ethan Murrow, an internationally acclaimed artist from Boston, and the Clay Center are thinking big, really big, in the solo exhibition that opened Aug. 17, following the three-day installation of "Wall Drawing Part I" by the artist.
Visitors were provided the rare and unique experience of seeing an artist as he composed and drew the first phase of his large-scale wall drawings. Murrow described the process as being developed "so people will see a progression and interact with me during the show." In preparing for the exhibit, he said he looked forward to a discussion, especially with kids.
So, he chose basic materials. The three 8- by 10-foot wall drawings are ballpoint pen on wall paint. Murrow said that he wanted to "keep things as simple as possible so if people bump into it, not a big deal."
The exhibit examines land, places and people from an aerial perspective. It features graphite and wall drawings, along with videos installed in small architectural settings including frames and ocular devices.
In addition, Murrow constructed a sculptural piece designed for the Clay Center titled "Jefferson's Raft" with a nod toward the complicated third U.S. president. The artist conceived the piece after his first airplane flight over West Virginia. The boatlike sculpture has a sort of patchwork floor made from repurposed wood from factories in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Murrow describes the piece as "intended to look a little bit wonky ... to be an intimate piece. I want people to get close."
Murrow said his profession has a lot of alone work, so he finds it exciting to have a chance to make work for the public. He said he is "happiest when someone grins or argues about my work." And, he added, he doesn't have to actually be there to feel the enjoyment he knows is created by his art.
The exhibit continues with "Wall Drawing Part II," which will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 23-25. Although Murrow describes the "Part I" drawings as being "full and good and finished," he will return to the Clay Center to expand and to change the nature of the drawings by adding human elements to the aerial-view landscapes.
He said the process is a new experience for him. "It will be an interesting challenge to figure out how to stagger things," he said. Visitors are invited to see the artist at work again as he composes and draws.