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First a musing, then a sculpture
UGA grad turns journal entries into concrete subjects
“Figures in a Struggle,” a sculpture in Georgia marble by Leigh-Anne Gross. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
‘Nature. History. Art.’
Sculptures by Leigh-Ann Gross
When: Through Feb. 20
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville

Before the pieces of marble, iron and wood in Leigh-Ann Gross’ studio become three-dimensional ideas, they are written down on paper as stories of her life.

The Gainesville artist and graduate of Gainesville High School keeps a journal, jotting down what’s going on around her and any other bits of inspiration that deserve to be put down on paper.

When she starts to see a theme forming, she turns those thoughts into something concrete.

Or, in the case of the “Eternal Fulfillment” series on display at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, the thoughts are created into shapes in iron rebar and smooth white marble. Those and other pieces are part of the Quinlan exhibition, “Nature. History. Art.,” on display through Feb. 20.

“I journal quite a bit and I see recurring themes in my journal,” she said, “and I try to elaborate on that and make sketches. Whatever material I see that lends itself to an image, I’ll go with that.”

The journaling started in 2005, she said, when she studied in Cortona, Italy, as part of her coursework at the University of Georgia.

Surrounded by the culture and art, she said, she had to write it all down.

But as far as her pieces go, Gross said many of them are figurative works reflecting the world around her.

“They have to do with an inner dialogue with relationships you have with other people and yourself,” she said. “It’s an open diary for me, I guess.”

Sculpture was something she turned to in college, she said. But as a student at Gainesville High School, her classmates would have seen her working in a two-dimensional medium instead.

Much of her early art focused on building a foundation of figure drawing and paintings.

“None of them were conceptual; that would be the major shift,” she said of how her work has changed since high school. Her work in Cortona helped solidify the shift to more conceptual pieces; she graduated from UGA in December 2007.

After graduating, Gross spent time working at a ski resort in Vail, Col., and then worked as a junior designer in London. She recently moved back to Gainesville and set up a home studio filled with Georgia clay and Italian marble.

The stone pieces, she added, take their shape in a specific way. But the sculptures done in wood take shape as they are created, letting the wood grain determine where the cuts are made, Gross said.

“And, I’m sure a bunch of my pieces can be interpreted in many different ways,” she said. “But it’s an idea I had and I think if somebody sees something different, that’s great. It’s just expressions that have just kind of come about.”