alice ballard does not need an intro having worked in ceramics for decades making her mark through her evocative, spiritual sculpture made by hand in her south carolina studio. the beauty in her clay forms speaks volumes of the natural world in it's rhythms of metamorphosis. her innate ability to transform clay into fluid objects that represent nature in all it's quiet brilliance is awe inspiring.
a native of florence, south carolina, artist alice ballard received her master's degree in painting from the university of michigan in 1969. she then moved to charleston, where she served as the first curator of education at the gibbes art gallery. it was while she was in charleston that she discovered her passion for working in clay. ballard received a fulbright grant to study in india, and she was one of eight ceramic artists invited to the international ceramic colony in resen, macedonia. the artist regularly teaches workshops at the penland school of crafts in north carolina and at the arrowmont school of crafts in tennessee.
presently an art teacher at christ church episcopal school, ballard is recognized throughout the region for her hand-built work inspired by such found natural objects as seed pods, petals, leaves, and bulbs. her work is included in the collections of the renwick gallery, the home of the smithsonian american art museum's craft and decorative art program, and the greenville county museum of art, among others.
my art is a reflection of my relationship with natural forms. these forms come to me on walks, while i work in my garden, or appear as gifts from friends who share my fascination with the beauty inherent in nature's abundant variety of forms. it is often the metamorphosis of nature's forms, as they change from season to season, that attracts me. i am endlessly drawn to that universal world in which differing life forms share similar qualities.
i spend countless hours contemplating a particular form in order to feel its energy. it becomes zen-like connection not unlike a meditation. as an artist, i hope that those who choose to connect with my work can share some of the harmony and tranquility i feel through the creative process. perhaps, at the very least, the viewer will give those small, often unnoticed forms in nature a second glance.
my “white work” is a group of sculptural clay forms that started back in the 1980’s when i discovered a bag of tulip bulbs beneath my studio sink that i had forgotten to plant in the fall. to my surprise, they had begun to grow in the darkness of the closed bag! my fascination with these beautiful and sensuous white forms that miraculously produced my mother’s favorite flowers, tulips, were the beginning of my love affair with white forms.
it is important to note the time frame of this event. my mother had just been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer and my family was facing the loss of my mother. the discovery of the bulbs was like finding a glimmer of hope in a time of sadness for my family. as symbols, bulbs are like tiny reminders of the life cycle. the bulb is buried beneath the ground and pushes through the soil to become a glorious flower each spring. it is all quite miraculous when you stop and think about it. being the eternal optimist, this was exactly what i needed to put me back to work and to give me the strength i needed to deal with those matters we all face of life and death.
pods have long been interesting to me as a form and as a metaphor for the feminine, the womb, and potential. they come in all sizes and shapes, textures and colors. the possibilities are so limitless that after working with the idea of the pod, i am still fascinated with both the form and the multitude of ideas behind the form itself.
hidell brooks is thrilled to be planning an exhibition of new work by alice ballard in 2018 including special site specific installations. all available work by alice ballard to under her artist's tab. also do not miss alice's work exhibited at burroughs-chapin museum in myrtle beach, sc through september 1st and next spring in the scac fellowship artists retrospective exhibition at the center for contemporary art in columbia, sc.