FEAT of CLAY
9 artists transcending the medium of clay
September 10 through October 15, 2011.
Opening Reception is Saturday, September 10, 2011, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Inherent to an exhibit named “FEAT of CLAY” is an affirmation that viewers will see courageous and strong work but also a suggestion of hidden vulnerability. Curated by RUTH REESE, the exhibition reflects the intense dualism of the title. Featuring the work of nine area artists working across a spectrum of methods and philosophies, but linked by their medium, FEAT of CLAY brings together unexpected interpretations of clay, proving to be inventive and inspiring. The exhibition in on view September 10, through October 15, 2011 with a free public reception for the artists on Saturday, September 10, 2010 from 7:00 – 10:00PM.
The artists featured in FEAT of CLAY include Jeri Au, Susan Bostwick, Jerry Breakstone, Charity Davis-Woodard, Rick Dunn, Melody Evans, Ron Fondaw, Jim Ibur, and Ruth Reese. The show’s curator, RUTH REESE, suggests that: “Through this cross section of gifted artists, we can celebrate some of the challenging and beautiful works inspired by the medium. Even more, these artists will re-examine the material itself. Look closely, you will see a careful dance with ephemera and fragility, (literally) tried by fire.”
Feat of Clay: Blazing New Paths
What is at stake in naming an exhibit “Feat of Clay?” There is the affirmation that the viewer will see courageous and strong work. However, say that phrase out loud and there is the echo of the expression “feet of clay”. In the hearing of the phrase, there is the suggestion of a hidden vulnerability.
Within ceramics itself, there is a tension reflecting this double entendre. How can exceptional art also have an inherent weakness, simply because it is clay? Let’s look closer at the original parable. In a vision, a king sees a statue with a golden head, a silver chest, brass legs and feet of clay and iron. Then, a stone is thrown at the feet of the beautiful statue, causing it to collapse. What does this vision mean? Because of its clay feat, the beautiful statue falls and because of its inherent weakness the king’s empire will also be vulnerable.
Perhaps then, clay is better suited to other endeavors than defending a kingdom. Indeed, clay can record movement like no other medium - it is the envy of bronze. It can reflect surfaces, as rich and delicious, as any painting. Clay can be molded into the great gifts of civilization, functional and architectural objects. Simply for that, ceramic artists should take their feet of clay and blaze their trail.
There are other struggles in the field of ceramics, like its positioning within art history, which undermines clay art’s very existence. Even though, there are great clay artists making headway in form and revolutionizing content, their names are not printed in the canon of art history texts. There are creative ceramic artists asserting demanding theses, pouring out installations - think of Ai Weiwei. There are pottters creating a refined sense of “form through function” and potters who encourage ritual with functional masterpieces. These truly are the “feats”, the great accomplishments. Although we assert that clay, along with other traditional craft materials, has a formidable presence in contemporary art - that role is at best ambiguous. Ceramics has yet to consistently brand its history. In other words, it has not asserted its legacy or future within contemporary art through writing and placement of key works. Perhaps, it’s simply the commitment to one medium (often inherent to ceramics), as opposed to a fluid appropriation of new materials that sets it apart. For sure, ceramic work draws a line in the sand and past that line you will actually find a fiery commitment to the object. That line is something the contemporary world often shies from.
Through this cross section of gifted artists, we can celebrate some of the challenging and beautiful works inspired by the medium. Even more, these artists will re-examine the material itself. Look closely, you will see a careful dance with ephemera and fragility, often tried by fire, and art that will cause kingdoms to crumble. ~ Ruth Reese
Added by PHD Gallery on August 18, 2011