The sculptures of a University of Montana ceramics professor are on display at the Missoula Art Museum in its new exhibit, “Binary Form: Ceramic Abstraction by Trey Hill and Andrea Moon.”
School of Art Professor Trey Hill, who has worked with clay the past 20 years, tends to emphasize the abstract or unknown in his sculptures, rather than mimicking literal objects.
“I try to build work that gives the viewer a few hints about the underlying meaning, but not so much that the story is laid out for them,” Hill said. “I hope they take those pieces of narrative, but then also add and interpret it on their own.”
The Missoula Art Museum curated a selection of Hill’s work to showcase in “Binary Form.” Seven pieces are on display as part of the exhibit, including something that resembles a tree. The form entered Hill’s work as he studied historical Greek and Roman figurative stone sculptures, many of which contain truncated trees that reach thigh-high on the figure.
“The trees are there to keep the figure standing so it doesn’t break off at the ankles,” Hill said. “Often, when we look at these sculptures we are so entranced by the figure that the element within the sculpture that is keeping it standing goes unnoticed. I think this is a good analogy for the way we see many things and what goes unnoticed.”
Many of the exhibited sculptures are influenced by Hill’s recent residencies in China, where he spent the past year on sabbatical. In July, he had a solo exhibition in Xian, China, featuring more than a dozen pieces, which he created while overseas. Hill built a couple of the selected pieces at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, where he worked in the visiting artist studio this past spring.
He also creates work at his home studio in Missoula, as well as the ceramics studio at UM where he has taught since 2008. Hill said it’s important for students to see their professors work so that they see the failures that come before the successes.
“Working toward an exhibition takes a tremendous amount of time in the studio, and the students see the work ethic it takes to see a show through to completion,” Hill said.
“Binary Form” is on display at the Missoula Art Museum through May 13, 2017. The museum, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, is located in downtown Missoula at 335 N. Pattee St.