A wall with four shelves Hugh horizontally hold dozens of clay skull sculptures. Each skull has a different trinket on top. They include a candle, a guitar, a carrot, a chair, and countless other miscellaneous items.Billy Mayer (American, 1953–2017). Here (detail), 1993–2015. 440 individual pieces, glazed earthenware and paint. Courtesy of Michel L. Conroy.

Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things

August 24, 2019 – February 2, 2020

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One of Michigan’s most distinctive and unique sculptors, the late Billy Mayer (1953-2017) created work in numerous media and materials that addressed the mundane elements of daily life as well as bigger, broader ideas about human existence. Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things brings together both large and small-scale sculpture that demonstrate Mayer’s creative imagination and his impressive range of interests and sources, from Surrealism and Pop Art to souvenir kitsch. Mayer’s meticulously crafted sculptures juxtapose familiar elements in unexpected arrangements that seem conjured from a parallel reality or dream state.

Anchoring the exhibition is Here, Mayer’s tour-de-force installation of over four hundred small skulls, each topped with a different everyday image or object – all handcrafted in clay. In its totality, Here imbues its range of banal objects and images with personal meaning, creating a self-portrait, in a sense, of the artist’s thoughts and memories.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:
Beusse & Porter Family Foundation
The Jury Foundation
Steelcase Inc.