Many thanks to The Belger Arts Center and the Lighton International Artists Exchange Program for providing us with this beautiful 2016 catalog, available in cfile.library today. You might have come acrross this show at the 2016 NCECA conference. If you are already a member, view the catalog, or begin your 14-day free trial. And don’t forget to submit your catalog or book to cfile.library!
Above Image: Vilma Villaverde, El Deseo, 2015, clay, glazes, pigment, and bathroom fitting
Kansas City: LIAEP, 2016
Lighton, Linda; Hartman, Tanya
Desire is the common thread which weaves the 35 artists in this exhibition (who are mostly female) together, but it is also the force that drives them to continue making ceramic work. What else urges them to sink their palms into the clay every day and make something from it? Essayist Tanya Hartman quotes Nietzsche, “ultimately it is the desire, not the desired, that we love… But is this true?” she wonders.
Some of the best parts of this catalog are all the cliffs of observation from which these artists view the theme of desire. Israeli artist Shlomit Bauman’s sculptural combinations of Israeli clay and porcelain create anxiety between the desire for sameness and assimilation of culture, and the desire for diversity. For me, this anxiety and desire comes from the work’s extreme delicacy that quivers and flakes like old wallpaper. As the viewer, I have a desire to affect it somehow.
Israeli sculptor Ester Beck describes a kind of relationship with clay:
“I approach clay with desire as there is an intimate, bodily, even erotic contact with the malleable, flesh-like pieces of damp earth. To shape it, I throw, beat, stretch, coax, and smooth the clay in a dance-like manner. We are in a dialogue, testing the limits of each other, until a form struggling to appear is released.”
Artist Lee Puffer feels trapped by her deep desires, which as we all know, never seem to go away even with conscious effort. Her work in this show examines the way that our gross and very human desires to “own, dominate, (and) control” everything can be made beautiful and thoughtful. We are motivated by these inward desires daily. Though we cannot change them, we also cannot ignore them. The work exists within a ornate gold frame where two white hands hold the rope that is wrapped around their wrists. “We all hold the rope that keeps us in bondage,” the artist states.