My name is Virginia Catherall and I am an educator at the UMFA.
The title of this sculpture is Ethnic Man. It was created by an artist named Viola Frey. Let’s take a minute to look at the sculpture. Stand back and look at the whole figure. What is this man’s posture? What expression is on his face? The chaotic colors and texture of the surface stand in contrast to the man’s quiet expression and stance. Why do you think Frey made him so quiet? Look at what he is wearing. Can you imagine what job he has or why he would be wearing a suit and tie? What impression does a man in a suit give you?
Without touching it, look closely at the texture on his pants. Can you see lines where the artist has sculpted and moved the clay around before it was fired? Notice the finger marks where she has dragged clay or poked it. Frey sculpts expressive textures to give interest to the piece.
Look around the sculpture. What do you see? What shapes and forms make up his body? The forms that make up the figure are simplified forms, almost pure cylinders, spheres, and cubes. How does the blocky figure support or contrast the quiet posture or the chaotic surface?
This statue is very large, much larger than an average man. Why would Frey make it so large? When have you seen very large figures? Many monuments to famous people are larger than life. But Frey also gives this statue a generic name that could make him anybody and from any culture. Another contrast that makes this sculpture composed of opposites.
One last detail about Ethnic Man, Viola Frey signed this sculpture with her handprint. Look closely at the top of his feet and see if you can find it.