Mouths to Feed

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Object Name: 
Sculpture
Title: 
Mouths to Feed
Accession Number: 
2012.4.174
Dimensions: 
Overall H: about 57 cm, Diam (max): about 35.5 cm
Location: 
Not on Display
Date: 
2009
Credit Line: 
Anonymous gift in honor of The Penland School of Crafts
Web Description: 
The son of an inventor, Michael Sherrill grew up in what he calls “a making culture.” Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, he moved to the mountains of western North Carolina in 1974. He had discovered ceramics in high school, and he was determined to teach himself to become a potter. He was encouraged by the artists of the indigenous North Carolina folk pottery tradition that surrounded him, and the community created by the nearby Penland School of Crafts. Over the course of his career, Sherrill moved from making functional to nonfunctional vessels. Eventually, he shifted his focus to nature, and to the sculpture that it inspired. He learned to work metal and glass, and to incorporate it with ceramic in a way that can be only described as seamless. In Sherrill’s pieces, “the materials all seem to become one,” says North Carolina sculptor Stoney Lamar. “You don't look at his work and break it down. It works as a kind of singularity that is phenomenal.” Sherrill’s floriform sculptures are loosely based on the plants he finds outside of his rural studio. While this work may be related to the famous glass botanical studies of the Bohemian artists Leopold Blaschka (1822–1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939), Sherrill’s plants are not scientific, but come from his imagination. The early years of the American studio glass movement were dominated by artists who moved from making ceramics to glass. Sherrill’s work joins that of other noted ceramists in the Museum’s collection who have experimented with the material, such as Betty Woodman (American, b. 1930), Viola Frey (American, 1933–2004), and Michael Lucero (American, b. 1953).
Provenance: 
Anonymous Source
2010
to
2012-12-31
Penland School of Crafts, Former Collection
2010
Anonymous Source
2010
to
2012-12-31
Anonymous Source
2010
to
2012-12-31
Anonymous Source
2010
to
2012-12-31
Inscription: 
Sherrill
signature
on the side of the bronze stem near the bottom of the stem
Primary Description: 
Sculpture, "Mouths to Feed". Cast and forged silica bronze, porcelain mokume, and Moretti glass; assembled. Sculpture consisting of long bronze stem with many small orangish yellow flowers and tentacle-like protrusions at base. Tentacles have a core made of several layers of colored glass cased in opaque red, which has been ground away to resemble scales.
Michael Sherrill Retrospective
Venue(s)
Mint Museum UPTOWN 2018-10-27 through 2019-04-07
Renwick Gallery 2019-06-28 through 2020-01-05
Arizona State University Art Museum 2020-02-29 through 2020-06-27
In his delicately rendered sculptures Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers, and to make them see things fresh. Working with clay, glass, and metal, his exquisite floral forms have the allure of Martin Johnson Heade’s passion flower and orchid paintings and the botanical engravings of John James Audubon, at the same time they are remarkably new. This retrospective will illustrate the artist’s evolution over his more than 40-year career and highlight his contributions to contemporary art, craft, and design. Primarily a self-taught artist, Sherrill moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to the Western North Carolina mountains in 1974. His early influences came from the North Carolina folk pottery tradition and the community surrounding Penland School of Crafts and the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild. Sherrill began his career by making functional clay vessels in the 1970s and 1980s, but his desire for continued growth led him to create altered vessels of more abstracted form in the 1990s. Ultimately he shifted his focus to multimedia sculptures inspired by nature, as seen in Temple of the Cool Beauty (Yucca). He explores the beauty in natural growth and decay with bright colors, often through painstaking technical processes. Sherrill’s exceptional skill is based in his innovative approach to using tools, technology, and his keen sense of materials together to achieve what he calls his “natural narratives.” Sherrill’s artistic evolution led him to master techniques of metalworking and glass working, and to invent new tools where needed. In 1995, out of need for tools that did not exist, he designed Mudtools®, now a successful line of tools for potters and sculptors. He is a frequent instructor at Penland and has taught at craft schools and workshops across the country. In 2003, The Mint Museum honored him as Artist of the Year. Sherrill served a two-month residency at the John Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI in 2006. His work is in several major museum collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As part of the World Ceramic Exposition/KOCEF, Sherrill was one of ten artists invited to build outdoor sculptures placed permanently at The Museum at Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, in 2004. He received a United States Artists Windgate Fellowship in 2010. Michael Sherrill Retrospective is organized by The Mint Museum.
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2012 (2013) illustrated, p. 5; p. 58, #40; BIB# AI95675