Sharif Bey

Conceal/Reveal:  New Work from the Faculty of the College of Visual and Performing Arts


November 6, 2014 – January 18, 2015


Artist Statement


My initial training as a functional potter has not only informed my sculpture with regards to form and surface but it is where my earliest discussions with regards to object, function, and ritual began. As a student I spent years producing wheel-thrown pots, which were intended, through their aesthetic sensibility and function, to enhance people’s lives. I struggled with the challenge of producing works that were unique, ornate, and made with the utmost care yet suitable for the kitchen. In this work I explore alternative ways of paying respect to traditional, functional, and ceremony while also sharing my own cultural and political voice.  This series of necklace-inspired wall sculptures cross-references notions of power, ornamentation, and natural history with forms and images associated with various traditional African jewelry/currencies. I explore the bead as a symbol for cultural and political identity. The design material and form of beads are notable ways of distinguishing African societies of various cultural, religious, and geographical backgrounds. I juxtapose various objects and symbols with hopes that the viewer will reconsider the notions of power and value. While the great majority of my ceramic forms are hand made with low-temperature clays, most of these works were produced during my spring 2014 artist residency at the Kohler Plumbing in factory in Wisconsin where I slip casted vitreous china and integrated a high- temperature clay palette.