Following the solo exhibition, “Homebodies: Artifacts,” in Santa Fe, NM this summer, Tansey Contemporary presents nine works by award-winning San Francisco sculptor Calvin Ma in Denver, CO September 15 through November 18, 2018. This special showing coincides with a feature of Ma in the fall issue of Modern In Denver.
Ma’s “Homebodies” showcase super hero or action-type figures who inhabit their own houses complete with doors, windows, and chimneys. His intricately constructed, handbuilt sculptures display marionette-like joints and fittings. Ma includes common objects of domesticity such as an iconic Eames lounge chair and ottoman, vintage boombox, and an old-fashioned TV set in retro color palettes that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia.
His monochromatic works in gray, detailed here and there with cream and navy elements in addition to selective gloss glazing, create an aura of seriousness despite the whimsical figures. A stalwart sense of resilience and perseverance accompany the works featuring a male figure and French bulldog, as if the duo are on an epic quest. The female figures take on maternal and fairy-like qualities as they express protection, empathy, and even a sense of magic.
Ma’s playful and adventurous practice roots his work in childhood while simultaneously exploring the adult world. He leverages childhood innocence and imagination to investigate personal issues and struggles with social anxiety. The house elements, for example, serve as a symbol for Ma: “when I do step out and try to be social, I feel like I take a lot of those protective walls with me, kind of a mask or skin that I put on.”
Ma earned a BA in industrial arts from San Francisco State University and an MFA in sculpture from the Academy of Art University. He lives and works in the Bay Area. Ma’s work is part of the permanent collections at Crocker Art Museum and Rancho Obi-Wan. He’s had numerous solo exhibitions throughout the American West and shown at art fairs such as London’s Collect in addition to SOFA Chicago. He’s won several awards for excellence in ceramics throughout California.