Enjoy the amazing portfolio of ceramic sculptor Brian Somerville, and find out more about this talented artist by visiting his website.
I sculpt beasts that tell stories. Inspired by the childhood stories I grew up with, I present my own interpretations and visualizations with animal sculptures.
Throughout my formal art education I was often told that my work was too cartoonish or entertaining to be taken seriously. Instead of listening to this well-intended advice, I ignored it at full speed. Although brief first impressions are often humorous and fun, further exploration of my work reveals deeper social, political and personal meanings.
Growing up as the son of a veterinarian, animals have always been an important presence in my life. During my time in graduate school at Florida Atlantic University, I realized the power of replacing the human figure with beasts.
Using animals in my narrative installations allows me to focus on ideas without the baggage and tradition of the human figure. It also allows me to play on the deep connections people have with certain kinds of animals.
It is always my goal to create sculptures that match the images in my head. Predominantly ceramic, I also utilize additions of mixed media in structure and surface treatments to get the effect I want.
The clay sections of my work are built solid on crude armatures and then cut up, hollowed out and reassembled. A life-sized dog might be cut into 30-40 sections at one point. Once reassembled, I obsessively cover each figure with relief images carved by hand. These images allow me to elaborate each beast’s tale and add to the context of their story.
My newest herd of beasts has evolved a bit and now utilizes hats, tools and weapons. Eventually I predict future work will grow in scale to include boats, trains and other modes of transportation for my creatures to ride on and possibly entire environments for them to live in.
Along with my personal work, I also do a great deal of commercial sculpture. This includes projects for local construction companies, theaters and a contemporary art center called OZ in Nashville, Tennessee, where I am currently an artist in residence.
By paying my bills with commercial work, I am free to do what I want in my personal work. It allows me to spend ridiculous amounts of time on a single piece with no agenda other than to share my ideas. Doing commercial work also exposes me to new materials and sculpting methods. These exposures continue to integrate themselves into my personal work.
I already have sketches of future work that will push my own boundaries in content and interaction with the viewer. I enjoy sharing my work and process through exhibitions, workshops and lectures and always appreciate constructive feedback.
Laugh now, cry later and enjoy the show.