Review: Amy McCullough unearths the connections between clay-making and life in new Plunkett Gallery exhibit

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Image: Ivy Marie Clarke

From “UnEarthed” by Amy McCullough.

Amy McCullough has been an artist for over two decades, specializing in large-scale ceramic sculpture. She sculpted the magnolia pod finials that crown the brick columns at the entrance of Tattnall Square Park. She has also instructed Mercer students in her craft and owns Macon Clay downtown, where she hosts classes and workshops as well as has her own studio.

Now, you can view McCullough’s work for yourself at the Plunkett Gallery in Hardman Hall in an exhibit called “UnEarthed,” which is on display through Apr. 16.

The bulk of the work featured in “UnEarthed” was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. In their abstractness, the pieces reflect the collision of negative feelings like anxiety and fear with the glimmers of light that have risen from community bonding and renewed appreciation for life.

Even the creation of the clay pieces parallels the events of the pandemic, for McCullough incorporated elements of control and chaos.

“Pieces were created and then manipulated and reassembled into a new form, always surpassing the original intention,” McCullough said in her artist’s statement. “This is our responsibility as humans, now and moving forward.”

From “UnEarthed” by Amy McCullough. (Image: Ivy Marie Clarke)

As the viewer moves through the gallery, they take in the range of McCullough’s artistic skill and vision.

To the immediate left of the door are small, round, stoneware sculptures, concave in the middle and filled with slick, dark glass. There’s a large stone bowl, bulging with protruding spheres, and a couple of long, slim stone pieces that resemble the skulls of some long-nosed creature. In the back of the gallery is an alternating order of mask-like sculptures hung on the wall and between them, pedestals hoisting heavy, intricately carved ceramic works. Surrounding these highlights are several other pieces McCullough has included for this exhibit.

All of these works are organic in color and in shape, and to walk amongst them is to wander into a version of Earth that is handmade.

Take a trip through McCullough’s world before the exhibit closes Friday.