Arts preview: 'Improbable' characters

Jim Fischer
"Ground Stalker" by Kate Morgan.

Alicia Vanderelli's Franklinton gallery steps into fall with an exhibition of fanciful, figurative works by artists who combine traditional mediums with found objects to create characters that are, in a word, improbable.

"Improbable: Imaginings of the Curious Mind" features work by Kristin Morris, Debbie Loffing and Kate Morgan. While the work of each is unique and boasts obvious elements of the artist's imagination, Vanderelli said "the three women share a common vein," creating robust, figurative works that employ layers and often-vintage found materials.

Morris, who was born to a potter mother, said she has always gravitated to ceramics, starting her career in art by making clay snakes when she was 5 or 6 years old. She has experimented with different types of clay, and in recent years settled on Apoxie Sculpt. The owner of an extensive collection of children's books, Morris said, "I like creating my own creatures." Her characters are often inspired by Tim Burton, Maurice Sendak and Jim Henson.

Loffing makes mixed-media assemblages from pottery and found objects; works in this exhibition include spark plugs, brushes and tool and die implements, giving her characters an at-times steampunk quality. She seeks inspiration in found objects, "things that had a use and now have a different use, things that had another life."

Morgan's dreamy figurative works are layers of drawing, painting and collage that employ vintage paper and gold leaf. As she has refined her style, she has also experimented with the addition of new materials she hopes "engage people with a piece of art on a level they otherwise wouldn't have been."

"I want to see what kind of stories people make from what they see," Morgan said.

Of the "Improbable" title, Morgan said the word acknowledges the figures are recognizable yet fantastical.

Or, as Loffing said, "These things don't exist, but look how cool they are!"

The Vanderelli Room

Opening reception 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13

218 McDowell St., Franklinton