Nature, rhythm explored in upcoming gallery exhibit at Coastal Bend College

Coastal Bend College inaugurates the spring gallery schedule with “Transformations,” featuring the works of Colleen McCulla-Thomas and Caprice Pierucci. A Reception and Gallery Talk will be held on Jan. 18, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Simon Michael Art Gallery of the Frank Jostes Visual Arts Building.

Colleen McCulla-Thomas' paper scultpture

Colleen McCulla-Thomas' paper scultpture

“This is a break out show for me,” McCulla-Thomas said. After raising children, building houses and working as a commissioned stone artist, McCulla-Thomas is doing her first gallery show in years.

“I was inspired at an early age by sculpture while residing and traveling in Europe, Asia and Africa. The stirring impact of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Oracle of Apollo, the Byzantine mosaics of Constantinople, influenced me to search into the meaning of images and their relationship to Man; while simultaneously, stimulating my contemplation and understanding of beauty as expressed through the visual arts,” McCulla-Thomas explained.

The exhibit showcases the artists’ stone and paper cast sculpture, including a nine-panel, full wall cast paper piece. Each individual panel is a contemplative piece within itself, McCulla-Thomas explained, but they work together as a complex, meditative work.

“I focus on universal concepts, in contrast to a narrow or more literal understanding, and try to place them in a modern context by playing on words to indicate a deeper interpretation,” she said. “I have discovered something deeply beautiful and truthful that is impossible to quantify but somehow keeps you wanting to come back for more. This is, for me, the ultimate litmus test for art.”

Caprice Pierucci's wood sculpture

Caprice Pierucci's wood sculpture

She has interned in Texas and New Mexico, perfecting her wood and stone carving skills, including a recent internship in granite carving with Jesus Morales of Rockport. She was part of the team that restored the Elissa, a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 and restored by Galveston Historical Foundation.  McCulla-Thomas’ work has been exhibited at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center in Austin, The Children’s Museum of Houston, Texas State University in San Marcos and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

McCulla-Thomas is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpting and Painting. She currently works for Texas State University as a woodshop technician and teaching assistant while studying for a masters degree with an emphasis in special education. McCulla-Thomas said she is constantly growing as an artist and focusing on words, wood, stone and paper.

Pierucci, who works primarily in wood, is inspired by her mother. The late Louise Pierucci Holeman, who lived in Corpus Christi as a young woman, was a pioneer professional fiber artist in the late sixties and seventies.

“Sinuous repetition of form, texture, progressive rhythms, and linear abstractions are the images I was surrounded by as a child,” Pierucci said. “Originally the wood was used as a support or armatures for my fibers and paper. Eventually the wood became the more expressive way to define the images in my head.”

Pierucci earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburg and her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Her work has been featured in over 90 exhibitions and Pierucci has earned numerous awards. Her work is also included in some prestigious collections such as Westinghouse, Morgan Stanley and the Rockefeller collection.

“My most recent work is about eternity and time. The undulating rhythms in the forms speak to me of our mortality and the huge expanses of time that lead to one particular moment of beauty. I want the work to be beautiful, but to also have a deeper underlying place to reflect,” she said.

The Simon Michael Art Gallery exhibit closes on Feb. 16.  For more information, contact Jayne Duryea, at (361) 354-2322 or duryeaj@coastalbend.edu.

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