Thompson Gallery Displays Kimbery Riner’s Human Fragility

By: Bella Metts, Staff Writer

Kimberley Riner, a ceramic sculptor and Visual Arts Director at Averett Center for the Arts, held a showcase of her artwork  November 11 titled Human Fragility in Furman’s Roe Art Building. For this exhibition, Riner created “mixed media ceramic installation pieces that document the journey of loss and grief as experienced through the death of loved ones.” There were four pieces exhibited during the reception on Furman’s campus.

Riner attended Iowa State University, but soon dropped out and began to pursue a career in business. After twenty years in business, Riner quit her job and completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, but felt that she was not finished learning. She went on to complete her Masters of Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University in 3D art with an emphasis on ceramics. This spurred her to expand her passion for art by exploring her love for installation ceramic work.

Riner’s current exhibition consists of four ceramic and multimedia pieces. The first piece consisted of a number of suspended, darkly colored ceramic flowers with a single white flower hanging in the center. The second exhibit was ceramic pieces shaped to look like iPhones, placed in a grid on the wall. The third was a dress made entirely of ceramic butterflies suspended from the ceiling. The fourth piece consisted of various ceramic items placed in a pile on the floor, with blurry bubbles projected on the ceiling around them.

Riner’s current art display was inspired by 17th century Vanitas artwork. The Vanitas art movement focused on the inevitability of death and the transience of earthly pleasures. Riner incorporates these themes in this exhibition, which focuses on the process of loss and grief over the death of loved ones.

Riner studied mourning within other cultures, specifically the grieving process, to prepare herself for these pieces. In her talk, Riner spoke about examining the world around her to find inspiration for these pieces saying that she is a “constant learner.” She cites, “I didn’t want my art to be about just me,” as the reason that she incorporates so many big picture ideas within her body of work as a whole.

Riner uses a wide range of different materials in her work. She says that she uses these variations as a tool to engage her audience. “I like taking things like butterflies and musical instruments and skulls and putting them together in a new context” said Riner in her talk with students regarding her current exhibition. Riner’s pieces varied from ceramic flowers all the way to a projection screen that showed out of focus bubbles.

When asked “What’s next?” Riner replied that she plans on making a tapestry out of ceramic skulls for her next installation piece. Riner’s installation will continue to be available for viewing in the Roe Building’s Thompson Art Gallery until Dec. 9.

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