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gary benna - fine potter; conceptual artist?

updated fri 27 dec 02


Helen Bates on tue 24 dec 02

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Marcia Selsor on wed 25 dec 02

Dear Helen,
Why the distinction of conceptual artist? I think Gary's work is in the
vein of contemporary sculpture.
His concepts pass beyond media boundaries. He is a sculptor with an
excellent skill level in ceramics.But I wouldn't call that a "conceptual
artist". I may misunderstand the phrase but my understanding of a
conceptual artist is founded upon a required conceptual art course for
all MFA candidates at Southern Illinois University. The jist was that
there was no object..just the concept.That wasn't very popular among the
students focusing on Fine Art. Half the grads quit in one year. 1972

(Not yet in Armenia)
Marcia Selsor

Helen Bates wrote:
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Tuscany in 2003

Helen Bates on wed 25 dec 02

Dear Marcia,

Your experience is deeper than mine, even with only the one course as an
MFA candidate. That is perhaps why I added a question mark. However,
not knowing that there was to be "no object", I took "conceptual" to be
related to "idea", "thought", "meaning", or other words of that sort. I
also think of "conceptual" as being in some way challenging, or ironic,
or addressing the human situation, especially as we tend to clothe it in

All that said, I haven't studied art formally, and read art theory only
spasmodically, and in very small "bites/bytes", and am not sure of my
self in this field at all.

Perhaps my point was that a potter, a ceramic sculptor (mixed media
artist using clay), might deconstruct (possibly correct use of word)
while s/he builds (constructs), so bringing the viewer's attention to
the concept (non-object.)

I dunno! ;-D


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Vince Pitelka on thu 26 dec 02

I defined "conceptual art" in a previous post, and I am in no way implying
that my definition is anything absolute, but I think it is a workable
definition in terms of contemporary directions in art. I think Marcia's
experience at SIU in the early 1970s was a common one at that time, when
emerging Postmodernism seemed purposefully and directly in defiance of
Modernist and formalist ideology. But in truth, conceptual art in no way
precludes the object. It simply subsumes aesthetics and formal design in
favor of the primary concept in the work.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Crafts
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
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