World-renowned sculptor Steve Tobin, who explores natural forms through monumental works in glass, bronze, steel and clay, will speak at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Thursday, February 18, at 6:30 p.m. as part of the school’s Visiting Artists Series.
The artist talk, titled “Steve Tobin: Natural World,” will detail his creative process and highlight several of his major installations.
The event, held in the Watkins Theater, is free and the public is invited. His appearance is in conjunction with his solo exhibition Southern Roots, which will be on view on the grounds and in the Museum of Art at Cheekwood February 20–September 4, 2016 (indoor exhibition ends May 29).
A native of Philadelphia’s Main Line, Steve Tobin earned a degree in Theoretical Mathematics from Tulane University, where he also participated in a glass-blowing class. He pursued his artistic career with study in glass at Pilchuck Glass School, WA and Penland School of Crafts, NC. Teaching appointments and fellowships in glass followed, and in 1989, he became the first foreigner invited to build his own studio in Murano, Italy. (He is entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for having blown the world’s biggest bottle.) His 15-year exploration of the medium of glass culminated in 1993 with a blockbuster installation in the caves at Retretti in Punkaharju, Finland.
In 1994, Tobin built his first bronze foundry and began to cast bronze; his monumental bronze sculptures include towering termite hills in Africa, forest floor detritus in rural Pennsylvania, a shelter made of Matzoth wafers, and the sprawling root systems of dead trees. Known for pushing the limits of his materials, he began experimenting with various ceramics processes in 1999, and detonated thousands of pounds of wet clay to make “Exploded Earth” vessels, whose forms suggest that landscape is an event.
Cheekwood’s Steve Tobin: Southern Roots features work from his Steelroots sculptures, an evolution of his signature bronze Walking Roots series. In 2005, Tobin gained acclaim when his massive bronze “Trinity Root” sculpture was installed in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Church in New York City, becoming the first and only 9/11 memorial near Ground Zero. The piece was cast from the stump and roots of a large sycamore tree that shielded the church from the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center.
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His work has been shown internationally at such venues as the American Museum of Natural History, United States Botanic Garden, Carpe Diem Gallery (Paris), the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits and Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and is part of permanent collections at the American Craft Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, American Glass Museum, the White House, and Musee des Arts Decoratifs (Switzerland).
In 2007, a Tobin Steelroots creation was among the 40 sculptures chosen for the City of New York’s “40 Years of Art in the Parks” retrospective, gracing the entrance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
He lives and works in Bucks Country, PA. For more information, visit stevetobin.com.
Now in its sixth year, The Watkins Visiting Artists Series welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. The guest artists, whose work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, give public presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on their careers and providing insight into issues facing contemporary artists and designers. The VAS offers the area’s cultural community a rare opportunity to engage the work and ideas of trendsetting visual artists, designers, filmmakers and intellectuals. The critically acclaimed initiative has not only brought a number of internationally renowned artists to Nashville—like first-time visitors Harrell Fletcher, R. H. Quaytman, Martha Rosler, David Hilliard, Jonathan Katz, Alec Soth and Artemio Rodriguez—but it has also invigorated the local art scene by introducing artists working in new media and performance—artists like Nick Briz, Jon Satrom and Liz Magic Laser (2013 New York Armory Artist)—and those expanding the parameters of traditional media and art practice—such as Jessica Hische, Ashley Hunt, Chris Sickels, Deborah Luster (2013 Guggenheim Fellow) and Natalia Almada (2013 MacArthur Fellow).
Documentary photographer Carolyn Drake (Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, Lange-Taylor Prize) launched the 2015-16 series with a lecture in November.
Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot.
About Steve Tobin: Southern Roots
In 2016, Cheekwood will present the work of internationally-acclaimed artist Steve Tobin. This exhibition, Steve Tobin: Southern Roots, will not only be on view in the Museum of Art, but it will also continue throughout Cheekwood’s vast landscape. Five outdoor areas will host Tobin’s monumental work, most notably his “Steel Root” sculptures. While in the Museum, visitors will have the opportunity to experience Southern Roots in the second floor gallery spaces, each providing an intimate setting to observe a particular style and medium from the artist’s vast portfolio of work. In addition to steel and bronze, Tobin incorporates natural elements such as wood, glass, and ceramics into his beautiful, mysterious, and dramatic pieces of sculpture. Tobin’s newest work, using wood from fallen trees in Costa Rica, has never before been exhibited, and will be a highlight of the Steve Tobin: Southern Roots exhibition.
Steve Tobin: Southern Roots will be on view on the grounds and in the Museum of Art at Cheekwood February 20– September 4, 2016 (indoor exhibition ends May 29). For programming details and tickets, visit cheekwood.org.