Sculptor challenges stereotypes, gender roles at Charlotte Fine Arts Show

Massachusetts' Michael Alfano one of many exhibitors at this year’s show, Oct. 9-10

Hot Works has a reputation of organizing some of the best art shows in the country, bringing world-renowned and local artists’ works to the public. The group’s Orchard Lake Fine Arts Show in West Bloomfield, Mich., has been voted three years running as one of the top 100 art shows out of at least 3,000 in the country, and they are once again bringing the same high quality to Charlotte.

The third annual Charlotte Fine Arts Show will be held Oct. 9-10 at the Park Expo & Conference Center (formerly the Charlotte Merchandise Mart). Featured at the show will be various art forms including sculpture, photography, painting and more. There will also be demonstrations of how the art is made, including pottery and woodturning demonstrations.

The show will also feature live entertainment from several musical artists. A particularly interesting act is Michelet Innocent, who is known for feel-good, romantic music and singing in English, French, Spanish and other languages. Jazz, blues and classical music will also be entertaining the crowds.

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Among the many artists whose work will be displayed at the show is sculptor Michael Alfano whose work includes nationally-noted monuments and philosophical sculptures.

Greatly inspiring to him, Alfano believes art is important to “help people to see life in a different way.” Because many have become caught up in society’s high-paced nature, art is needed to “break out of that busy mentality” and consider what is truly important in life.

The Massachusetts artist explains why sculpting is such a uniquely poignant and meaningful art form that anyone can appreciate. Alfano’s art is designed to communicate on multiple levels, to connect with multiple senses. For those who are tactile learners, the sculptures can be touched or held. Others who are more visual are able to consume the art with their eyes. For verbal learners, Alfano includes philosophical and literary quotes that express the message of his art.

Additionally, sculptures offer a unique expression of the human form, which Alfano says he’s “obsessed” with, whether it’s a face or figure. It’s a particularly effective symbol that “captures our attention” and “speaks to us dramatically,” says Alfano. Much of Alfano’s portfolio consists of faces as well as many nude sculptures of both men and women.

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IF YOU GO…
The Charlotte Fine Arts Show will be held Oct. 9 and 10 at The Park Expo and Conference Center. Exhibits will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Admission is $5 at the door, $4 in advance. Children under 12 are free. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit hotworks.org.

Though he’s not gay himself, some of Alfano’s pieces do include male and female same-sex themes. No matter what form it might come in, “love is love,” says Alfano, explaining why it doesn’t matter to him whether a person is gay or straight.

Similarly, Alfano believes there are social pressures on people to maintain certain gender roles according to their physical sex. His views of masculinity and femininity are clearly displayed in a sculpture called “And/Or,” in which male and female anatomy is alternately depicted within one figure.

“Every person is on a spectrum of male and female attributes,” Alfano explains after referring to the expression of his own feminine side in his sculptures.

In advocacy for these and other beliefs, many of Alfano’s art works include something of a political message. Equality, he says, is one of many issues he finds important. In a 1998 sculpture, “Stand Up, Speak Out,” (partly created to address drunk driving) Alfano purposefully depicted a figure of progress and change as African-American because of the history of disenfranchisement and social injustices perpetrated against that community in this country. To this day, the artist says, the figure represents a call to speak out against what is wrong in our society, including similar injustices and discrimination still taking place today. : :

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Posted by Tyler DeVere

Tyler DeVere is a former editorial intern for QNotes.