Among the ceramic sculptures on display in UAA’s Hugh McPeck Gallery is a depiction of an astronaut playing the guitar. Inspired by Chris Hadfield, the first person to record a music video in space, this piece is one of many others that seek to discover what space exploration reveals about humanity.
Brian Adams, a bachelor of arts student with a minor in history in his final semester at UAA, sculpted this piece in his ceramics class. He is currently showing an exhibit at the gallery titled “A Million Dreams Is All It’s Gonna Take,” which showcases two years worth of his ceramic works.
“I think part of why I wanted to pursue this narrative is that I feel like people are kind of losing faith in humanity, which I really disagree with because it’s kind of a defeatist attitude to have,” Adams said. “All you have to do is look around for a little while and look in the right places and… you see people working together all the time and getting along and doing amazing things.”
Adams deliberately chose space exploration as a theme for his exhibit.
“I think it’s the perfect example of what people can accomplish when they get over their differences and work towards the same goals,” he said.
Many sculptures in his exhibition have been directly inspired by real-life events, Adams said. Another piece, entitled “On the Shoulders of Giants,” is a tribute to the lives lost in space exploration. It features several astronauts supporting a spacecraft and “holding each other up,” Adams described.
Adams’ ceramics professor, Alanna DeRocchi, said that ceramics helps Adams to work quickly through his ideas.
“You can make anything with ceramics. [Adams] has a really interesting way of working… he’s done mold making, he’s done slab building, he’s also done free form modeling… there’s such a large variety of ways you can make sculpture with clay,” DeRocchi said.
This long history of ceramics adds further depth to Adams’ art.
“What I like about ceramics is it’s the Earth… I think it speaks to those ideas of people exploring the world, finding this material, using it to make things for thousands of years,” Adams said.
In addition, Adams believes the long-lasting nature of ceramics gives humans insight into past cultures.
“I hope that these pieces will last a really long time. I almost want them to be permanent, and if humans ever disappeared, it would be cool if someone found them,” Adams said.
DeRocchi is happy with the opportunity for Adams to show his works to the public. Bachelor of arts students such as Adams do not automatically have the same chance to display their pieces in the Hugh McPeck Gallery as bachelor of fine arts students have to display their thesis exhibitions in the Kimura Gallery in the fine arts building.
“I think the show in the Hugh McPeck Gallery is great so that everyone can see all of [Adams’] work in one place at the same time… now the whole campus or people in the public can come see it,” DeRocchi said.
Adams wants the audience of his exhibition to consider that “we’re all exploring the world.”
“So in that way, we are like these astronauts… your ability to just observe things happening and be in this place is a gift and I think that if more people understood that idea, it would be easier to get along,” Adams said.
“A Million Dreams Is All It’s Gonna Take” is currently on public display in the Hugh McPeck Gallery in the Student Union through Sept. 26. Admission is free during the gallery’s hours of Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.