"A Machine Aesthetic": Lavin Wins Arts Fellowship, Holds Solo Exhibition

    Art Professor Terrence Lavin, who teaches jewelry and metals, is receiving some well-deserved recognition for his work, with a solo exhibition going on now in Hartford and a fellowship recently awarded by the Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA).

    The exhibit, called “Terrence Lavin: Sculpture,” is on view until December 20 at EBK [small works] Gallery at 218 Pearl St. in Hartford. Gallery owner Eric Ben-Kiki says about Lavin’s sculptures, “What I love about [them], aside from them being gorgeous objects, is that they provoke your mind to anticipate and demand symmetry and logic from them; neither of which are satisfied. There is this desire to define a function for them but one can’t tell if these have had some utility in the distant past or are prototypes for a future not known. Nevertheless there is an intense magnetic beauty to these artworks that commands the present.” Images of objects in the exhibit can be viewed on the gallery’s website.

    Lavin’s own website is subtitled “Objects, Artifacts, Arcane Mechanica,” words that accurately describe his sculptures, many of which look intriguingly like bits and pieces of old machines. He writes:

    “My work serves as a personal exploration into the unknown and much-debated areas of the human experience: space, time, function, meaning, and the physical forces of the universe. I am interested in making pieces that possess their own authority as objects of contemplation, and that speak of artifacts of the past, present, and possible future. Common to these pieces is a quality of enigmatic and ambiguous utility essential in generating a dialogue and pattern of inquiry between the object and subject. By drawing upon the vast histories of industrialization and machine technology, tools, architecture, and utilitarian objects, I find a tremendous pool of symbols directly relevant to the everyday human experience. Explorations of the physical realities of tension, torsion, and compression allow for an infinite variety of dynamic relationships in the context of a machine aesthetic, as well as the subtle qualities of gesture and motion.

    “In the midst of this temporal ambiguity and enigmatic utility, there exists an anomalous zone, a contextual space, in which form contradicts function, and necessity is not necessarily an essential component of invention. This is the space that intrigues me — where machines are no longer derivative to their function, and tools assume a life of their own. The means to articulation and purpose are no longer subservient to an identifiable end. The context of this zone is both machine and man-made, yet without the essential quality of utility usually associated with this class of object. However, the potential, and possibly, even desires of the objects to come to life and exist as articulating machines is anticipated and contemplated.”

    Lavin is one of only six artists in the state to be awarded a 2014 Artist Fellowship from the COA. The COA received a total of 94 applications for the fellowships and chose the winners based on the artistic excellence of their work. Grants in the amount of $10,000 were awarded in the categories of Craft, Film/Video, New Media/Digital Arts and Sculpture/3D Installation; Lavin was chosen in the “Craft” category. The funding provides an opportunity for these artists to continue their artistic development and creation of new work.