Standing larger than life in the gardens of the Morris Arboretum is a newly installed stainless steel sculpture, Arise, by Philadelphia artist Joe Mooney. The Morris Arboretum’s Time in the Garden exhibition attempts to illustrate the concept of how time effects plant life and the seasons of growth. The exhibition is open until October 28th, 2018 and the Morris Arboretum is located in Chestnut Hill near the Woodmere Art Museum. Regular visiting hours are weekdays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and weekends from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Seraphin is also proud to have Mooney’s newest addition to the Forward series featured in our gallery.
The human aspect of his work is reflected through his creative process, using the gestures of his sculptures to imitate the gestures of the human body. Most of Mooney’s work is built from cutting organic shapes from steel and welding the pieces together to create a completely new shape. He draws from myths and stories he has investigated such as the rebirth of the Phoenix and the story of Moses. Many of the stories he draws upon in his work symbolize the internal struggle of human life and our ability to reclaim ourselves from life’s difficulties. The relationship between the body and emotions is the main inspiration for how he creates his work. His work draws from motions like embracing, kneeling, or standing with open arms, which are all movements that fuel our different feelings and allow us to express our state of mind.
These themes have also served as inspiration for Arise and Forward. Arise stands in the lush environment of the Arboretum gardens, with its ragged metal pieces floating towards the sky. Here we can see the theme of rebirth and rising from our own worldly struggles. The metal pieces defy their own fate as a heavy metal and resist what we expect of the material. The steel he works with in this piece is transformed into stacked, thin, and organic shapes that reveal the light, gestural balance of the structure. With this process, Mooney is able to manipulate steel in a way that contradicts with the industrial history and heaviness of the medium. This sculpture unifies the rigidity of steel and the soft nature of the environment it is placed in, bridging the gap between the two dualities of what is natural and what is man-made.
Similarly, Forward is a smaller painted steel sculpture, reminiscent of a person running in an onward direction. The gesture of the sculpture seems to be that of struggle, the form that the sculpture is echoing is weighed down by its own heavy material. Although the sculpture is burdened by its own weight, its light and airy structure encourages its resilient spirit to keep moving on. With both of these pieces, Mooney uses steel in ways that contradict our own beliefs about how the material can be used, turning them into something light and floating. Joe Mooney has received his MFA degree from Alfred University and is a BFA graduate of Pennsylvania State University. He has also received his Bachelor of Science degree at Villanova University. His work has been featured both nationally and internationally, including in the collections of LaSalle University Art Museum, University of Alabama, and the Woodmere Museum of Art in Philadelphia as well with exhibitions at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, Kouros Gallery in New York City, and the Villacero Fundacion in Mexico.
Mooney’s work is also currently on display at Seraphin Gallery. His piece Untitled is located in the sculpture garden of the gallery and Forward is on display in the main gallery. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 5pm. Contact us by phone, 215-923-7000, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions or requests about the works.