There is a brand new exhibition at the ANFA Gallery, Wavelength, featuring the work of six artists including the stunning ceramic sculptures by artist Allison Luce. One of the things that we love about Allison’s work is not only the unique way her ceramic pieces are displayed on the gallery walls but also the detail Allison puts into each piece. The colorful palettes go from beautiful blues and greens that will have you feeling the cool salty breath of the ocean on your cheeks, and pinks and corals that remind you of colorful coral reefs and ocean life.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Allison about her work, and in today’s interview, she shares about one of the places that inspired the latest additions to her Ancient Expanse Series, artists throughout history who continue to inspire her, and more.
When did your interest in art, and ceramic sculptures specifically first begin?
It goes way back. I have a picture of me as a child and my first easel, probably around age 6 or 7. I’ve always loved art and was involved in the arts in high school, participated in art club and took all of the art classes I could, and then was an art major in college. So I’ve always had an interest.
You graduated with dual BFA degrees in Painting and Art History from Ohio University and an MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. What was the biggest takeaway from your time at both universities?
At Ohio University they have a great studio program so I was really able to immerse myself in the practicalities of art-making. The faculty (at Ohio University) were well-known artists from all over the country. One of my professors was from San Diego and two were from New York City so they gave me a good overview of what life in the arts would be. So I feel like I got a studio background as an undergraduate.
Nebulous 1 & II
How did your time in NYC influence you as an artist, and what did you enjoy the most about having the opportunity to live there surrounded by so many amazing museums?
It was really exciting because it was the difference between seeing artwork in books and actually seeing it in person. That was really just life-changing for me. Hunter College has a wonderful studio program and some of my classmates were already exhibiting at Chelsea so it was kind of like a welcome to the big leagues. It was a great opportunity.
Something else that was unique about Hunter College at the time, was that studio spaces were very large. So being able to not only be in NYC but have a large studio space to work in making it possible to not have limitations on the size of your work. So there were no limits on what you could create.
What color palettes are you the most drawn to?
I like a lot of different palettes for different work. With my Serpent Tree Series from 2009-2012, it was in the range of greens, grays, and neutrals. I also went into a pinks and peach season for a while with the same body of work.
Now I’m using a lot of blues, aqua, and coral colors for the Ancient Expanse Series. So the palette is constantly changing.
Tell me about a typical day in the studio.
I usually do some sort of exercise, I like to stay active, and then I will work on whatever studio project I’m working on. In the afternoon I will do more of the administrative work, entering exhibitions and following up on emails. I like to do some reading and writing to round on my day.
Your work is inspired by the sea, and coral that you’ve seen while snorkeling. Where are some of the places you’ve been where you’ve made the most unexpected finds beneath the water?
There is work in this show (Wavelength) from the last trip I took in 2020. My husband and I went to St. Thomas for 10 days and we came back right as everything was starting to shut down due to the pandemic. So we came back right before St. Thomas was canceling flights in.
In one of the areas that we visited, they had an area where lots of coral had washed up in this one section of the beach and I brought back a bunch of brain coral and I used it to make a stamp. Some of the pieces in the new exhibition at ANFA actually have those brain coral and different patterns from that recent trip.
We’re planning on our first trip out of the country since the pandemic began to Aruba in three weeks. So hopefully we’ll find something there as well.
Your work has been shown at both solo and group exhibitions both in the States and abroad. What do you enjoy the most about meeting collectors of your work?
I love hearing their reactions and hearing their associations to the work. Sometimes people realize that I’m the artist and they will start telling me about their reactions to the work which I always find interesting. With the Ancient Expanse Series, people will usually tell me about places they’ve been and it will bring back associations and memories. I really enjoy talking to the different patrons at the galleries I visit here and abroad and getting their reaction to the work and their experiences with art in general.
Who are some of your fellow artists who inspire you?
I love art history, and one of my degrees is in art history. I studied at a one-month intensive in Italy between my junior and senior years in college. That was a life-changing program for me because I went from only seeing the artwork in textbooks to seeing it as it was created in the churches and different areas were just fascinating
I’ve been drawn to artists who have a strong physicality to their work, like Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian sculptor) and Caravaggio (Italian painter Baroque to the Renaissance periods). Those are two of my favorite artists and when I’m in Italy I usually try to go around Rome and see the churches where their work is.
I also like to look at contemporary work by artists including Petah Coyne (American contemporary sculpture artist and photographer) her large installation work and I also like to go back to art history artists like Eva Hesse (German-born American sculptor) and Lynda Benglis another artist whose work has a physicality and a strong presence to it.
During our recent visit to the latest exhibition at the ANFA Gallery in Charlotte, we loved seeing your latest pieces from the color palettes to the textures of each individual sculpture. Tell me a bit about the process of creating new work for an exhibition, and what are some of the highlights for you as an artist as you create the new work and then see it on display opening night.
For this exhibition (Wavelength) I started working on new ceramic work back in February or March. I’m very lucky that ANFA has sold quite a few of my pieces over the past year and I’ve had 2-3 commissioned pieces as well so I knew I was getting lower on inventory and needed to push to get new work. So that was exciting.
It takes months to create the ceramic work and then I made three panels for this show and my carpenter makes the panels. Everything really came together and the end as I was working on the titles and the technicalities of the show. The process was really fun for me as an artist.
When do you title your pieces, before you’re created a new work, or afterward?
I am of the ‘once it’s finished I title it’ thought process, but I have friends who have a title in mind before they create the work. I find both methods fascinating but usually, I’ll look at the finished work, and go back through my sketchbook and what I was writing and thinking at the time, and then I suavely get my inspiration from there.
‘Matchless’ and ‘Perfect Dream’ from the Serpent Tree series | Photo credit: Mitchell Kearney
Tell me a bit about the installation process for an exhibition, do you install your ‘free form’ work on your own, or do you work with the gallery staff?
With the Ancient Expanse installation that you recently saw that the ANFA Gallery, the two pieces that were more organic in nature were installed directly into the walls, and fortunately I had help from the gallery staff and interns. They also have a professional art handler who installed the panels. It took a lot of helping hands to get the work installed.
What do you enjoy the most about working with Anne and her team at the ANFA?
I feel like Anne is a very talented artist and I’ve learned from her studio practice and the business aspects of her work. The ANFA staff are so creative, talented, fun, and professional with the way that they market the work. I couldn’t ask for a better team to represent my work. I’m thrilled to work with them.
— About the Artist —
Allison Luce | Photo Credit: Mitchell Kearney
Allison Luce explores the ephemeral nature of existence and the mystery of eternity through her ceramic sculptures and monoprints. Luce graduated with dual BFA degrees in Painting and Art History from Ohio University and her MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where she is a studio artist and an art instructor. She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and her work is included in private and corporate collections.
She has been a Resident Artist at the International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, the Zentrum für Keramik-Berlin in Germany, and the Medalta International Artists in Residence in Canada. She has been an Affiliate Artist at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation and a Visiting Artist at Baltimore Clayworks. In 2014, she was a Resident Artist at The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences where she was awarded The Antinori Fellowship for Ceramic Artists. She was a Resident Artist at the GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art and the Noble and Greenough School in Massachusetts in 2015.
She served as Guest Faculty for Gordon College’s study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy in 2016 and 2017. Her artwork was on display on a billboard on 1-77 North in Charlotte as part of the Art Pop 2016 program. She has participated in the American Craft Council shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and served on the Board of Directors of Christians in the Visual Arts. She completed a fifty-sculpture commission for the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte as a participant in their Community Supported Art program. She also received two Regional Artist Project Grants from the ASC to purchase a kiln and a slab roller for her home studio.