By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
NORTH TONAWANDA — Beginning today, some little critters will call Project 308 Gallery on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda home for about a week.
But they’re not of the furry, cuddly sort. No, these rabbits, foxes, opossums and deer are made of ceramic, part of Buffalo State College student Michelle Sallander’s ceramics thesis exhibition, titled “Predator/Prey.”
The student show — which officially ends Nov. 23, but may be extended — is exactly the sort of thing gallery owner Natalie Brown had in mind when she launched the space in August. Brown, herself a student at the University at Buffalo, said she offers space to students at more affordable rates.
“I think the gallery is going to be a very important spot for thesis shows and student artists,” she said. “They often can’t find such large spaces for these prices.”
“I feel if you’re going to school and you’re spending all this money on a degree you should have a jump start on your career.”
And Sallander is hoping the show, which features dozens of her animal figures, will do exactly that. She said she’s excited to have her work in a larger gallery because many of her classmates end up using free, yet smaller, spaces at the school.
Brown’s gallery “seems to fit really well with my style of work so it’s perfect,” Sallander said.
And just what is her style?
She likes to create figures of animals — that’s clear — but Brown describes them as a little bizarre.
“They’re usually friendly animals, but they have a dark side to them. There’s something up with them,” she said with a laugh. “I really love them.”
Sallander said her aesthetic is “pretty gestural.”
“It’s not very precise or cleaned up, it’s about capturing expression and movement through the clay,” she said. “It’s real playful for sure.”
As its title indicates, “Predator/Prey” is a show about opposites. You have what are normally docile animals, like rabbits, and more agressive ones, like coyotes.
Sallander describes the dichotomy as a “push and pull.”
“They need to balance each other out and keep things going,” she said. “The predators are vicious, but they still have something lovable about them. I don’t think they come across necessarily as killers, just darker.”
“That’s what most of my work is about, trying to create balance.”
The show opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. It will be up until Nov. 23, though Brown said it may be extended for longer.
IF YOU GO • WHAT: Predator/Prey ceramic sculpture show • WHEN: Today through Nov. 23; opening reception 7 to 9 p.m. today • WHERE: Project 308 Gallery, 308 Oliver St., North Tonawanda • MORE INFORMATION: Call 523-0068
Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.