The Art Gallery in Harrigan Hall is currently hosting the sculpture of local artist Tom Zaroff. The exhibition opened on March 7 and will remain on view until March 31. According to his artist’s statement, environmental processes, such as erosion, decay, concretions and mineral deposits influence Zaroff’s sculpture. These are then categorized between subtractive and additive processes.
In order to create his final pieces, Zaroff carved animal forms into stone, which served as a form for a mold. Once the mold was cast, Zaroff added or subtracted from it as he felt compelled. The final pieces bear some resemblance to the original guide, though by adding and removing elements from them along the way, Zaroff expedites the course of erosion and other processes as mentioned previously, leading each sculpture to a unique and organic end. For other works, he starts without a guide, carving directly into the mold to create a space for the object to take shape. This is a less exacting process, and often begins without a specific plan. As Zaroff comments in his statement, “Sculpture can be about the artist controlling a material…sometimes it’s about the process controlling you…one can feel directed."
All of the artworks on display are relatively small; the largest is no more than a few feet tall. They are, however, far from delicate. Most are quite squat, and they appear dense, made of concrete, glass and metal. One of his works, which is somewhat bison-like with emphasized shoulders, has a tunnel hollowed out through the center. Triangular forms of brightly colored green and blue glass set into this cavity resemble a geode. This contrasts strongly with the rusty and undefined exterior, showing the different effects of decay and simulated mineral deposits.
A grouping of three similar sculptures is featured along one wall. They seem to be variations from the same guide sculpture, though made in different molds. Each has a rectangular body and four legs, but the shape and size of the sculptures’ heads are all unique, and their legs also show some modifications. Despite these differences, the way in which their surfaces have patinated is consistent throughout, visually unifying the trio.
I found that the textures and effects used by Zaroff are interesting in their detail, though overall the forms were widely unvaried. It is highly possible that this is intended to show the differences of his process without letting the subject matter be a distraction. The works do depict Zaroff’s methodology, and the connection between this and his influences is quite clear, so he is successful in communicating the “physical manifestation of natural processes” that he describes in his statement.