Tonawanda News — Buffalo resident Bethany Krull likes to think that though her latest exhibit focuses entirely on animals, she takes an unsentimental view of the little critters she sees in her everyday life.
The 32-year-old grew up on a farm in Lancaster and fondly recalls days spent playing outside, running around barefoot and seeking out interesting insects and flowers. In the same breath, she tells stories of her family raising a cow to butcher for food all winter and learning to pluck chickens with her grandfather.
”I grew up having this strong love of nature, but also seeing the unsentimental side of it,” Krull said. “I always saw both sides.”
Now a city dweller, Krull became intrigued with the way in which wildlife situates itself in a more urban landscape, from birds making a nest in her gutters, to trying to keep rabbits out of her backyard garden.
It’s this juxtaposition of wildlife and the human forces placed upon said wildlife that inspired the sculptor’s latest show, “Where are the Wild Things,” on view starting today at the Castellani Art Museum. Krull’s show is the latest in the museum’s regular TopSpin series, highlighting emerging regional artists.
Dozens of artists apply for each TopSpin show and ultimately Michael Beam, the curator of collections and exhibitions at the Castellani, said the selection committee was drawn to Krull’s use of porcelain devoid of any color. Nearly all of her sculptures are pure white, though a few feature splashes of color.
”Whether flat or glazed, it makes it interesting,” Beam said of Krull’s use of stark white. “It makes each (piece) feel like it has a precious feel to it, like a decorative object.”
Krull said she views porcelain as a “very pure” type of clay, unlike other forms like reddish earthenware.
”I aim for a very clean, minimalistic aesthetic,” Krull said. Porcelain “has a more precious connotation, which I equate with my views on the natural world. It’s also very fragile, so I see that as being a perfect representation of the natural world itself.”
The pieces in the exhibit portray the lengths to which humans have exerted their control over animals, whether by keeping the wildness at bay or even trimming a poodle’s fur into a bright purple poof.
”There’s a certain aspect of nature we don’t embrace” as humans, Beam said. “We love nature but we love it on our terms.”
”I have such a love for nature but you start to see how oftentimes animals are considered pests or they’re something you try to keep away from your home,” Krull said, referring to her garden battle with some neighborhood rabbits. It’s also interesting “seeing the ways in which I bring the natural world into my home and how contrived that can be. We have 56 house plants. We have this little bit of nature inside but ultimately it’s in a controlled and ordered way.”
Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116 or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.IF YOU GO • WHAT: "Where are the Wild Things" by Bethany Krull • WHEN: Opening reception 2-4 p.m. today; runs through May 4 • WHERE: The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University • MORE INFORMATION: Call 286-8286 or visit www.niagara.edu/cam