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Anthony Cervino at Lycoming College

‘All’s Well that Starts Well’

October 30, 2011
By APRIL LINE - Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

The faculty sculpture studio of Dickinson College is in a converted factory on Louther Street in Carlisle. The pristine, white facade and well-kept landscaping camouflage the would-be grit, though the building is decades removed from its original purpose.

Inside, the space was echoing and visibly renovated. A handwritten sign on an easel said, "Sculpture this way," which is where Anthony Cervino works as a professor and a sculptor.

His work is up at Lycoming College's gallery at 700 College Pl. until Nov. 27. The show is called "All's Well That Starts Well."

Article Photos

The artwork of Michael Cervino will be on display in Snowden Library at Lycoming College until Nov. 27.

He said, "The sculpture department didn't really exist when I got here five years ago ... they are generous here in that they provide us a studio space," Cervino said. "I think a lot of us see it as an extension of the classroom: I work with an open-door policy."

Cervino is introspective and warm and funny, and so is his work. One of the pieces, called "Typical Mother's Son," is smallish relative to some of his other pieces and consists of a plastic cast, yellow snowman, melting on a white tile surface with a literal lead brick overshadowing it. The piece is comical in its contradictions: tiny plastic snowman, the wrong color, in the middle of a puddle, dwarfed by the lead.

Another piece, "All's Well that Starts Well (And Moves With the Sun)," is similarly dichotomous, with a band saw that has been painted flat black and is resultantly menacing, and a yellow mold from the same snowman. In this piece, however, a wall with an awning that suggests blocked entry separates the two objects.

Cervino said, "The snowman is me, that much I've figured out. Yellow represents me." He admitted that the current work is more autobiographical than ever before.

He discussed themes he explores, things like authenticity vs. artifice, entropy, duality, and what counts as an object. He said, "The big one with the latest work is part father part son."

But he does not want to be prescriptive. He said, "The Art is supposed to speak to a broad audience... I hope the work is reductive enough individually, or collectively, to allow the viewers to fill in their own [narrative]."

His sculptures are like poems: layers of images, loaded with double entendre, that appear to be simple constructions at first glance, but as one looks closer, as one notices more details, the self-referential aspects of the work, the clever use of found objects, the meaning and importance grows.

This is not work that will be adequately appreciated from photographs.

The show at Lycoming contains works that use found objects, works that are forged, fabricated, or molded, small and large sculptures. And most of the work is made of objects that were re-purposed from other collections and from the studio at Dickinson.

He laughed when he pointed to a wooden duck stuck on the end of a piece of twisted, rusty, concrete support pole and said, "That was actually a prototype for another sculpture."

As he described the process, and pointed to the sculptures as they stand and the other sculptures from which they derived, or use some piece of, he said "It's also about building yourself into mythologies that built you."

Cervino is from Western PA, born outside of Pittsburgh. When he was a child, his family moved to North Carolina's Outer Banks where he was home educated.

Faced with the then-difficulty of getting into college as a homeschooler, he spent a few years at Penn State in its faltering Poultry Science department.

He finished his studies at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, earning a BFA in sculpture, and since then earned his MFA in Sculpture from Towson University in Maryland, and has worked at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and at Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C.

He lives in Carlisle with his wife, who teaches in the Art History department at Gettysburg College, and their two children.

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