December 15, 2016 – March 24, 2017

Opening Reception: Thursday December 15, 5:30-8:30 PM

Closing Reception & Artist Talk: Friday March 3, 2017, 5:30-7:30 PM, Artist Talk will begin at 6:30 PM.


About the Artist and his Work

Mud and Fire features new large-scale ceramic sculptures by Indiana-native artist Robert Pulley.  Also on display is a small selection of maquettes from the artist’s studio practice. These are a result of an ongoing preparatory process of model-making that the artist uses to sketch and develop his ideas and inspiration. This exhibition is curated by Jennifer Riley, a contributing editor at, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Triangle Arts Association and the gallery Curator at Indiana University Center for Art+Design.

Pulley is fascinated by the interconnected complexity of nature. His sculptures are abstract and offer references to organic form, geologic form, the human figure, and recently, hints of geometry. The materials are modest and primal—mud (clay) and fire. The colors are subdued and rich, a result of minerals and chemical elements within the glaze fired on stoneware in a reduction kiln. There are suggestions of the energy of growth and of the scars of loss and age. The work honors the natural world and our place within it.

Pulley is a lifetime resident of Indiana. He received a BA and a MA degree from Ball State University. His professional accomplishments include opening Sun Hai Pottery in rural Spencer County, an artist-in-residency in Portland, IN, teaching art in the public schools for 31 years and pursuing his life as a working artist in Columbus, IN. His sculptures have been represented by many galleries and have been shown in nearly 200 invitational and competitive exhibitions. Additionally, his work can be found in public and private collections such as the Indiana State Museum, the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art, The Canton Art Museum, The Art Museum of greater Lafayette, Wright State University Museum of Art, High Point University Sculpture Garden and many more.

Curator Statement

Joy and Magic

The deeper meaning in abstract art lies in the eye of the beholder. That being said, it is Robert Pulley’s imaginative magic that combines with his use of materials, techniques, and a profound knowledge of craft and history, as he casts a wide net to cull from nature and our existence. The diverse range of things suggested by Pulley’s large and small ceramic sculptures might be limitless, but they are extremely beautiful and exciting to experience and–they offer something rewarding. They offer discovery in a most rare way.

Difficult to name or pin down, the works are evocative yet slippery in their form. It is as if they are cloud shapes in the sky–one instance we see a charrioteer, the next minute, a sea creature wearing a crown. The viewer, like an archaeologist comes upon a new find with Pulley’s work, one that they discover and attempt to name as they take it in. This is when the viewer realizes they are in the presence of work made by a strong artist, a master of his craft, one capable of sharing his joy, thrill and mystery of bringing somethiing completely new and unique into the world.

Jennifer Riley, Exhibition Curator