FSU alumni Barbara Balzer (MFA Studio Art 2001) has just premiered her ceramic art gallery “When the Sky Has No Corners” at Tallahassee Community College’s Fine & Performing Arts Center. Focusing on human behavior and moods hidden below masking faces and the human experience through myths and sculptures, the art is truly a display of creativity and ingenuity.
Barbara Balzer, as described on TCC’s website, is the daughter of a U.S. Air Force officer who traveled the corners of the globe all her life. Earning an M.F.A. in Sculpture at FSU, her work is showcased all over the world in permanent collections such as the Museo de Ceramica in Spain, the Yingge Museum of Ceramics in Taiwan and the Vero Beach Center for the Arts in Florida. She is an accomplished master of her craft and “When the Sky Has No Corners” is a testament to her craft.
“She just raises the awareness of the art community in Tallahassee and gives us an international respect,” said Gallery Assistant Ken Pierson. “A lot of people that come and visit, they’ve never been here before–and what a beautiful space this is.”
The installations display the human body and head in many states of being and are inspired by Greek myths and modern observations Balzer has with the world, family and herself. These observations manifest themselves in many ways, such as dirty red and yellow horns protruding from heads or gray faces lined in a row and cut in half, as shown in her piece “Three Graces Share Their Abundance.”
“I regularly revisit the concept of the Three Graces, historically tapped only for their beauty,” said Balzer. “In my work, they repeatedly try to expand what they have to offer… with varying degrees of success. In this iteration, the three women are represented by giant frontal half-heads. On the side of each head are their attempts at evidencing or imparting wisdom. In the gold script on the black background are phrases such as ‘After I finish reading a book, I eat the last page’ or ‘Poems are never finished; they are abandoned.’”
Each art piece is a statement all unto itself, made by a woman with precise clinical hands but with insightful eyes that can see the world in front of her, as well as the people, whose moods and emotions are held underneath surfaces and real personas are given a spotlight. “Les Diplomates,” another piece that represents her exhibit, shows two figures in dresses and holding smiles upon sticks, a show of diplomacy and more.
“Disappointed by my country’s rampant recent divisiveness, I wanted to explore attitudes of peacefulness and trust…Intelligence and expression are registered in the face and important information is stored and communicated by hand,” said Balzer. “This work… features both human heads, holding a ‘smile on a stick’ in front of their neutral mouths. The distance between the ‘smile on a stick’ and their mouths is filled with a universe of possible responses to the ever-unfolding phenomena before them… They are neither duplicitous nor inscrutable; they are eternally empathetic.”
“It’s just the amazing talent of the artist to bring out those details of the faces and all the characters in the exhibit. It just really grabs your attention,” said Pierson. “Just the human form in all the figures, how lifelike she makes everything, and just some of the unique fantasy sculptures she does is amazing.”
“When the Sky Has No Corners” premiered on Sept. 7 and will run until Oct. 12, giving art lovers over a month to take the time to stop by and ponder each face’s meaning while in turn facing themselves.