Insistent Objects: Works by Young NC Sculptors

GreenHill is pleased to present Insistent Objects, an exhibition of works by younger NC sculptors from September 2 to November 6, 2016.  This is the first sculpture survey organized by GreenHill in a decade and highlights works in the round by eighteen artists who work or teach in the state or graduated from area MFA programs or artist residencies. 

The exhibition features sculptures in cast aluminum and clay, welded steel, carved wood, paper, fiber and wax that explore contrasts between hand-made and mass-produced consumer objects.  It includes kinetic and participatory works and works that incorporate found objects that have been discarded or abandoned. All of the sculptures in the exhibition have the power of establishing an ‘emphatic presence’ and engage the viewer in considering beauty as not divorced from the unruly or abject aspects of everyday life. Though certain artists in the exhibition have practices that include performance, video, and studio craft, the resurgence of the object in their work is a response to what one artist has called the “mental pressure objects exert on the subconscious.” As such, the exhibition sheds light on sculpture as a medium that can challenge and expand ways of seeing objects or understanding ideas.

By concentrating on the object as manifested in works that can be both mundane and mysterious, man–made and organic, many works can be seen in the context of the longstanding influence of Surrealism and its advocacy of the use of everyday objects and elevation of the “ready-made” as means of sculptural expression. Austin Sheppard’s assemblage entitled Metamorphosis (2015) composed of life size carved legs projecting from rusted machinery evokes the “interior model” of dreams and the subconscious at the heart of the movement. Lu Xu’s Salt and Pepper in Time (2013), a working alarm clock filled with salt and pepper that becomes intermingled with the movement of the clock’s hands, exemplifies how the simple “adjustment” of a found object produces poetic resonance. Both Kamal Nassif and Meg Stein create tactile works that mediate Surrealism’s latent eroticism through ironic juxtapositions reflecting a post-feminist perspective. Meg Stein’s extroverted works created from drugstore staples such as cotton balls and make-up applicators recall the beasts and chimeras that haunted Surrealist compositions—though here with a quirky, post-Anime twist. Kamal Nassif’s refined, intricately crafted works present themselves as seductive fetish objects yet deliver a message.  In Divulge (2014), the red interior of a pink dish glove is visible through voids cut in the lattice work designs of traditional Arabic architecture used to segregate or conceal women. Benjamin Reid’s kinetic sculptures in wood and metal conjure a post-apocalyptic dream world. Hybrid objects, half instrument and half vessel, form an eccentric fleet suspended from the ceiling, as moving components create raucous sounds taunting the viewer. Frankie Toan’s works in fiber with hand embroidery also reflect a desire to create works that entice visitors – in this case through touch, reaching their full potential as objects when worn or activated. Many works spark reflection through their unexpected choice of materials such as in Joe Grant’s Loaded (2016) a hand-blown glass revolver inspired by a Western starring John Wayne and Aaron Earley’s resurrection of a World War II airplane engine. Contemporary modes of spirituality are addressed in Andy Denton’s archetypal “spirit-animal” combining a figure in a yoga pose and a deer.

The exhibition also examines approaches to contemporary consumer culture and the object in the digital age.  Certain artists take a low-tech approach as in Casey Cook’s playfully monumental cardboard sculptures one of which was inspired by a grocery list. John Seefeldt creates works focusing on familiar objects that include technological interfaces not at once apparent in their design. Ordinary bottles on a ledge allow visitors to hear conversations from an adjacent gallery space highlighting the shift in experiential understanding of human relationships in our contemporary, media-focused culture.  Ashley York also questions how value is ascribed to objects in a hyper-mediatized world, thriving on “convenience, disposability and immediacy.” Her polychrome ceramic sculptures explore transitional states between digital and real spaces and refer to landscapes based on memory or found on Google Maps. Mario Gallucci’s works in the form of rocks and hanging plants have been called “counterfeit objects” and are seamlessly fabricated from digital prints on paper of photographs by the artist of everyday objects. The ensuing confusion between perception and reality raises questions about the influence of photography in the visual and psychological processing involved in our experience of objects.  

Several artists address questions on the nature of the relationship between labor and the production of objects. Kevin Vanek’s cast aluminum works reproduce a sand bag and wooden pallet – objects used in the process of casting molten metal.  Their burnished forms, like cast baby shoes, have the effect of memorializing these common studio supplies evoking a “poetics of materiality”.  Rachel Garceau’s graceful cast porcelain sculptures are produced in a series and also recall the history of their making. Though created from the same mold each umbrella is slightly different, alluding to both the warping of the kiln during firing and the “pressure of falling water now frozen in time”.  Ivana Milojevic Beck’s elegant process-oriented works in brick and wax, though non-representational evolve within a similar register by wedding hand and man-made, soft and hard, transparent and opaque.

Paul Howe captures the spirit of his surroundings and transforms the space itself into an object through labor, taking the guise of lumberjack, conservator, and city planner among others.  Documentation of three local works created for “The Bureau of Maintenance, Repair, and Rebuilding” represent steel “repairs” to local sidewalks the artist produced to enrich Greensboro’s built environment. The sidewalk is a rich medium for Peter Goff also who defines one of his artistic goals as “to increase people’s awareness of the seemingly insignificant objects and actions that accumulate on our sidewalks, roadsides and parking lots.”  His compelling assemblages, composed from samples of flotsam gathered on assigned routes effectively “defy” the natural life-cycle of trash and invest the most banal of castoffs with meaning.    

Edie Carpenter

Director, Curatorial and Artistic Programs



About the Artists

Ivana Milojevic Beck utilizes brick as the primary medium in her sculptures, emphasizing parallels between brick as a foundational material and her homeland of Serbia.  Beck holds both a BFA and MFA in Sculpture from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she won the International Sculpture Center’s 2016 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.

Casey Cook was born and raised in Bellefonte, PA. She left Pennsylvania for California where she earned her BFA from Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. She now lives and works in Chapel Hill, NC. She was recently was selected to participate in the Area 919: Artists in the Triangle exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Andy Denton received his BFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from East Carolina University. Now living in North Carolina, his sculptures combine metal casting, ceramics, and metal fabrication to comment on the state of contemporary spirituality.

After attending East Carolina University, Aaron Earley continues to live and work in North Carolina. He works in a short series-based format in which each series has a completely unique method, artistic statement, and combination of materials.

Born and raised in Greensboro, NC, Mario Gallucci began his arts career at GreenHill as a curatorial assistant, graphic designer and freelance photographer. Now in Portland after receiving his MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art, his work investigates human perception as it relates to objects through a combination of photography, painting, and sculpture.

Rachel K. Garceau received her BFA from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire. She came to North Carolina through her work with the Penland School of Crafts where she was a Core Fellow, studio assistant and exhibiting artist.

Peter Goff’s assemblage works combine found objects collected on daily treks to and from his studio. Goff received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he was also a Fulbright recipient. Goff is now a professor of art at the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, NC.

Joe Grant is a glass artist from Champaign, Illinois whose current work explores a “triadic relationship between science, people and art.”  After earning a BFA in Glass from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MFA in Glass at Virginia Commonwealth University, Grant relocated to North Carolina. Grant was an Artist-in-Residence and workshop instructor at STARworks before taking his current position as Director of STARworks Glass.

After receiving his BFA from SUNY Plattsburgh in New York, Paul Howe came to Greensboro where he earned his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Since graduating, his work has been displayed throughout North Carolina and Greensboro at museums such as Elsewhere and the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Kamal Nassif received her BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design. She came to North Carolina as an Artist-in-Residence at Pocosin Arts in Columbia, NC. Her work revolves around perceptions of womanhood, sensuality, and experiences of shaming.

Benjamin S. Reid’s mixed media sculptures include simple mechanics and sound that come together to create an atmosphere of whimsy, wonder, apprehension, and beauty. Raised in the Virginia foothills, he now lives in Durham, NC with his wife where he continues his pursuit of original creative expression.

John Seefeldt received his BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and his MFA from Western Carolina University. His work focuses on familiar objects, spaces, and relationships and integrates wood, clay, and metal work with interactive, electronic media.

Austin Sheppard received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and his MFA in sculpture from East Carolina University. Sheppard’s work explores different types of isolation and its effects on the development of individualism.

Meg Stein is a sculptor and performance artist living and working in Chapel Hill, NC. Stein addresses the notion of “women’s work” through her sculptures and garments fabricated from domestic objects, including disposable razors, Q-tips, make-up brushes, hair brushes, nail files and nail polish.  Stein holds a BA in Philosophy and a MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Frankie Toan first exhibited at GreenHill in the 2015 Winter Show. Trained as a metalsmith, Frankie Toan’s recent work explores the intersection of objects and interaction. Toan holds a BFA in Craft and Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and is the current Artist-in-Residence at Redline in Denver, Colorado.

After earning his BFA in 3-D Studio Art from Bowling Green State University, Kevin M. Vanek went on to earn his MFA in sculpture from East Carolina University. His sculpture looks at forms that celebrate the use and history of industrial labor practices.

From Lincolnton, NC, Ashley York received her BFA in sculpture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her MFA from Temple University. In her studio practice, York creates ceramic sculptures that lie at the intersection of nature and technology.

Originally from Southwest China, Lu Xu’s performance works challenge the standard language and efficiencies in the mundane. She came to the U.S. to study art and holds a BFA from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota and an MFA in Studio Art from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has worked as a Production Curatorial Assistant at Elsewhere Museum and is now the Curator of the UNCG Art Department Gallery and the Coordinator of the UNCG Art Truck.


Associated Programs


First Friday at GreenHill | Live Music by Heads Up Penny

Friday, September 2, 2016 | 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Join us for First Friday with Live Music by Heads Up Penny from 6:30-7:30 pm. Heads Up Penny describes themselves as "Winnebago Soul." They are a four piece group based out of Raleigh, NC with a focus on creating thoughtful soul tunes. Heads Up Penny hopes to both tap some toes and encourage their listeners. Free and open to the public. Cash bar. Donations appreciated.


Eve Recast: A Performance by Meg Stein

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 5:30-6:30 PM

Join us in The Gallery at GreenHill for a performance by Insistent Objects sculptor and performance artist Meg Stein. Stein’s work addresses the notion of “women’s work” through her sculptures fabricated from domestic objects, including disposable razors, Q-tips, make-up brushes, hair brushes, nail files and nail polish. This performance is a witty take on living symbiotically with these peculiar entities. Free and open to the public. This event is part of 17 Days, Greensboro’s Arts & Culture Festival.


NC Art Outreach Project

Sponsored by Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation

The NC Art Outreach Project provides exposure to NC artists by facilitating a dialogue with nationally recognized artists, critics and gallery directors. The 2016 NC Art Outreach Project will be held in conjunction with GreenHill's Insistent Objects exhibition and include guest panelists Glenn Harper, Editor of Sculpture magazine, Tom Moran, Chief Curator and Director of Artistic Development at Grounds for Sculpture, and New York-based artist Michael Ballou. 


NC Art Outreach Project Panel Roundtable

Thursday, October 6, 2016 | 6:00-7:30 PM

For its second installment of the NC Art Outreach Project, GreenHill will host a Roundtable Discussion with guest panelists Glenn Harper, Editor of Sculpture magazine, Tom Moran, Chief Curator and Director of Artistic Development at Grounds for Sculpture, and New York-based artist Michael Ballou. Free and open to the public. This Program is sponsored by Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation.


Community Breakfast with NC Art Outreach Project Participants

Friday, October 7, 2016 | 8:30 – 9:45 AM

Join us in The Gallery for an opportunity to talk with artists and panelists participating in the NC Art Outreach Project during a catered breakfast from 8:30 am to 9:45 am. Cost is $8/person. Register before October 5 at  


Insistent Objects Artist Reception + First Friday with Live Music by Shiloh Hill

Friday, October 7, 2016 | 5:30-9:00 PM

Join us for the Artist Reception of GreenHill's exhibition Insistent Objects: Works by Young NC Sculptors and First Friday with Live Music by Greensboro's Shiloh Hill, a multi-instrumental band whose sound is a blend of folk and “indie.” The event is free with a cash bar. Donations appreciated.


In the Round: NC Resources for Sculpture

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 | 5:30-7:30 PM

Join us in The Gallery for a discussion of regional sculpture resources by a panel of experts from Tri-State Sculptors, STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise, Liberty Arts Sculpture Studio and Foundry, Jim Gallucci Sculptor, Ltd., UNC-G and ECU. Free and open to the public.


In the News

"Greenhill's fall sculpture exhibition challenges our view of objects" YES! Weekly, August 2016

"They Insist: Works by 18 young sculptors at GreenHill compel viewers to pay attention" Winston-Salem Journal, September 2016


Additional Resources

Press Release - CLICK HERE.