Terra Firma vs Terra Incognita: Clay Sculptures

Upstate artist Glenda Guion will present her hand-built red earthenware clay works in her exhibit, “Terra Firma vs Terra Incognita: Clay Sculpture,” March 7 through April 1 in Gallery II of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg.

“I have been hand building with red earthenware clay for over 40 years,” says Guion, a native of Nashville, Tennessee. “For the past 10 years I have been living on two acres of land that includes 14 magnolia trees, pines, seed pods, wondering guinea hens, blueberry bushes, gravel paths, owls and the occasional snake. I am currently making work that attempts to reflect where I am in the world, grounded in the beauty of my own backyard. The exhibit includes a mix of work from over the past few years as well as new work.

“I am interested in the contrast between the modern and the ancient, the organic and the synthetic, and the psychological and physical challenge to translate ideas into clay,” Guion says. “I hope to communicate that which surrounds me, both physically and mystically – from earth, gardens and manmade forms to archetypal symbols and theories. Many of these works are inspired by mandorlas (Italian for almond). The form refers to a shape used in religious art as the large oval behind the representation of a single sacred figure. It is the shape created by overlapping two circles and is seen in spiritual terms as the overlap between heaven and earth, or dark and light. It is the space that contains the conflict of opposites.” 

She continues, “The abstract figures in my work are represented as shadows. For years I have been interested in psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s notion of the ‘Shadow.’ He describes the shadow as the place between the conscience and subconscious, or good and evil. Jung also believed that for humans ‘the shadow is the seat of creativity.’”

Guion earned her BFA in clay from Middle Tennessee State University and her MFA from Clemson University. She taught clay at the Fine Arts Center Magnet School for the Arts in Greenville for 25 years and served as the art department chair for 13 years. She was also the chairperson for the Open Studios event in Greenville for four years and is currently Co-Chair of the upcoming Open Doors Studio Tour Spartanburg. 

Her work has been widely exhibited both regionally and nationally, receiving 13 first-place juried exhibition awards, along with 15 solo exhibitions. Two reproductions of Guion’s clay sculpture are included in the book “Handbuilt Ceramics” by Kathy Triplett, and three works are published in “500 Teapots,” (Lark Books.) In 2004 she published an article titled “Making an Ocean of Clay” in Pottery Making Illustrated Magazine, a publication of The American Ceramic Society (July/August issue). Her clay sculptures are included in public collections such as the South Carolina State Art Collection, the Pickens County Museum, Columbia College, Clemson University, Sumter County Museum of Art and Middle Tennessee State University.

Many of the more than 25 works in the exhibit will be offered for purchase, with prices ranging from $55 to $1,000.


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