My ceramic and mixed media sculptures look at life through the lens of vulnerability, awkwardness, and discomfort, embracing the perspective that ugliness, weakness, and flaws are part of what it means to be human. By creating unusual, awkward relationships between biomorphic ceramic forms and fragmented elements of domestic space, I provoke feelings of discomfort. This discomfort echoes uncomfortable memories and their lingering effects. By appearing vulnerable, weak, and weird – yet familiar – these works reveal how I view myself.
My sculptures ask for investigation through unexpected elements like faux fur, hair, rolls, or crevices. These bodily references are a vital component to my work because I consider the forms to be representations of myself. Their blobby, structureless forms recreate my everchanging level of anxiety, my perpetual reliving of awkward moments. Decisions about form, surface treatment, and space highlight the awkwardness of each piece and, therefore, question what comfort is.
RJ Sturgess is a mixed-media sculptor living and working in Atlanta, Georgia making work about the discomfort and awkwardness inherent to the human condition. RJ graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and a Bachelor of Science in Metals and Jewelry from Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY) in 2012 and received his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA) in 2020. He has exhibited his work across the country in venues such as the Clay Center of New Orleans, the Blue Line Arts Center (Lincoln, CA), the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (Atlanta), and most recently as part of the 2021 NCECA conference. RJ currently works as Ceramics Studio Manager at The Hudgens Center for Art in Duluth, GA, and maintains an active studio practice.