My mixed media sculptures look at life through the lens of vulnerability, awkwardness, and emotional instability, 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 conjure The Uncanny, The Unsettling, and The Incomprehensible to provoke feelings of discomfort. This discomfort echoes difficult moments in my family’s history and explores the lingering effects of those moments. By appearing vulnerable, weak, and weird – yet familiar – these works also reveal how I view myself and echo the awkwardness I feel when faced with emotional expression.
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; they are metaphors for my inner emotions and their blobby, structureless forms recreate my amorphous emotional state, my everchanging level of anxiety, my perpetual reliving of awkward moments. Decisions about form, surface treatment, color, and space highlight the awkwardness of each piece and, therefore, its ability to question my sense of comfort. By extension, the sculptures trigger awareness of viewers’ own level of comfort through the strange, the uncanny, and the bizarre. This space between mild irritation and the experience of the uncanny creates a relationship seemingly at odds with itself.
Mayfield, New York
RJ Sturgess is a mixed-media sculptor living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. Sturgess was raised in Mayfield, New York, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. His work has been featured and has received recognition and awards in national and international exhibitions such as the 2020 NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition. In 2012, Sturgess graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and a Bachelor of Science in Metals and Jewelry from Buffalo State College and he received his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the Welch School of Art at Georgia State University in 2020. Sturgess is currently an Instructor of Record at Georgia State University and maintains an active studio practice.
Sturgess ’s mixed-media sculptures put at play combinations of biomorphic ceramic forms and fragmented elements of domestic space to provoke discomfort and embrace the perspective that flaws are part of what it means to be human.
B.F.A. in Ceramics, State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College), 2012
B.S. in Metals/Jewelry, State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College), 2012