In the Loop
Student Stories : Sep 10, 2015

Ceramics student creates paleontological forms of prehistoric animals

By Jessie Ward

The history of the natural world is a source of inspiration for School of Art + Art History first year ceramics student Ariel Bowman. The evolution of strange features and unusual tusks influences her clay sculptures of prehistoric animals as seen in the intricately carved elephants that are dominant in her work.

“The nostalgia of the circus in my work provides a connection to the childlike joy I find in discovering new animals for the first time,” says Bowman. “Elements of the circus in each piece create an alternate timeline in which the viewer can travel back and experience the power of these majestic animals.”

Bowman’s sculptures start out as solid clay on an armature and then are cut into sections. After hollowing out the parts, she reassembles the piece and hand carves all of the details.

While researching graduate schools, Bowman wanted a ceramics program that was supportive and to have a place that could provide her with the opportunities she needed for research. Inspired by many ceramic artists who received their MFA here at UF, she decided she wanted to learn more about the program.

“I wanted faculty who were connected, established artists as well as great teachers,” says Bowman. “Just in the first week of classes, I have found that all of this is true about UF ceramics.”

Bowman is also excited to find more opportunities through the school and the city of Gainesville in which she can investigate new ideas for her work. Right now, she is researching new prehistoric mammals that used to live in this area of Florida.

“I am planning to merge my ideas of an alternate timeline with more inspiration from my childhood, as well as art historical inspirations,” she says. “I will be experimenting with more fantasy and surrealism in my work this semester.”

Bowman was recently featured in the June 2015 issue of Ceramics Art and Perception and has an upcoming solo show January 2016 at the University of Dallas in the Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery.