It’s our goal to cover as much of the contemporary ceramics world as possible. It pains us to let an exhibition go unmentioned. So in order to scoop up as many worthy shows as we can, we run this column, “Exhibitions in Brief.”
Justin Rothshank loves decals. Working with utilitarian forms, such as the mug, Rothshank hand-makes all of his forms on the wheel and through multiple firings, adds the decals. Recently he has collaborated with his wife, Brooke, to create decal mugs of history’s peacemakers, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malala Yousafzai, which have been paired with miniaturist paintings of the peacemaker. Justin also makes handmade mugs with decals of other popular icons. Their show, Instruments of Peace, took place at Bluffton University (Bluffton, Ohio, October 7 – 30th, 2015).
Antonella Cimatti is influenced by the life that lies within the shadows of her sculptures. She forms lace paperclay and alumina cutout sculptures using the elements of light and shadow. Her work featured in La Scultura Ceramica Contemporanea in Italia (Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture in Italy) showcases the evocative transparencies of the paperclay, juxtaposed against the ephemerality of the shadow.
Cimatti continues her research using porcelain slip to create illusionary and lightweight artworks that reference the ephemeral nature of ceramics, “The Butterflies on the wall are born of a combination of one porcelain wing and the other which is created only virtually, by it’s own shadow. Poetry and emotion are the principal elements of the installations: the butterflies are created by their own shadows. One part of the work is real while the other is temporary because the shadows are ephemeral and elusive.”
Basic Black, a 2015 NCECA Show at the Concord Art Association in collaboration with Lacoste Gallery (Concord, Massachusetts, March 5 — April 3, 2015) featured an array of international contemporary ceramic artists such as Sara Flynn, Bodil Manz, Steven Heinemann, and Colby Parsons. All works shown have a common theme of black. The show’s curator, Lucy Lacoste, describes the installation as “an exciting alchemy between cutting edge ceramic art and the powerful sense of time and place evoked by the 18th century building that houses the Concord Art Association.”
Ashley Howard is interested in the architecture and ornamentation of the sacred vessels in religious spaces. He investigates the dynamic of the container versus the contained, explored through porcelain fonts in his show, Ritual and Setting. By placing these vessels within the ecclesiastical setting of Winchester Cathedral (a sacred vessel itself), Howard alters the viewer’s expectations of ceramics and the spaces we expect them to be held within. As the artist states, “I became increasingly aware of my interest in ceremony and ceremonial objects, in the spaces they occupy, their special aura, and in other elements associated with these spaces, such as music and contemplation or meditation.”
Howard uses the historical implications of both porcelain and stoneware in an interesting way in this sacred space: stark white porcelain being of higher quality and significance and stoneware being the utilitarian clay body of the people. By adding color and design to the surface, Howard references the already familiar motifs of the cathedral setting, such as the fleur-de-lis, oak leaves, and tile patterns found specifically within Winchester Cathedral.
Francesco Ardini’s show, Stige, featured at the Federica Schiavo Gallery (Rome, April 28th — July 4th, 2015) showcases a beautiful array of work by this self-taught sculptor. Utilizing forgotten molds from closed ceramic production factories, Ardini immortalizes these largely-ignored plaster forms of vases, cups, and figures by fossilizing them. By encasing these molds in plaster, the forgotten are memorialized and preserved as objects to slowly be uncovered and broken away.
Ardini adds pink chalk to the plaster that is to be poured, giving the work a fleshy tone, reviving it from the subtle palette of whites and tans. The violence of the knife marks further deepens the narrative of the work, referencing archaeological and architectural artifacts: “Thinking on the suffocating weight of history on the new generations, I transformed these objects in blades, since what takes care of you then hurts you. I took some portion of white clay and mixed with red clay, and I started to cut it with these blades, with violence. I created a body.”
Vinod Daroz is inspired by mandalas and a granite stone carving of a lotus he found at Padmavathi temple in Srisailam. With those as his guides, he sculpts these conical female ceramic forms, communicating a sense of intimacy and protection that references nature.
Eva Koťátková explores social relationships and interactions through multimedia sculptures in her show, Collection of Suppressed Voices (Frieze London 2015, Oct. 14th-17th, 2015). She describes this body of work as “a group of vases [that] stand on a platform. Some are broken, some are about to fall into pieces. Some are temporarily fixed. Some have visible supports, holders or extensions. Some have holes, beaks, arms and other body parts. Some of them speak. Two bodies move on the platform. They activate the objects and try to speak through them. They navigate themselves through the vases and use them as containers for voices that can be heard only when being touched or moved.”
“The installation is a three-dimensional database of suppressed voices, people-children that struggle with all kinds of communication difficulties. It is a stage for part bodies, part objects to gain new shapes, meaning, identity by rearranging and relating the various individual elements to each other creating new temporary wholes and coordinates.”
Guided by her interest in archeology and human history, Patricia Sannit sculpts her imagination using motifs, patterns, and structures of histories and pre-histories that relate to contemporary art and life. Her quote about the poetry of ancient artifacts is a Rosetta Stone for her work:
“When I imagine our history, I see a column, stacked with sections that are slices of time, some glorious, or skewed, some ambitious, some collapsed. I love the reality of an ancient object, one that has been seen in varied manifestations through time; once perhaps useful, then a discard, then a discovery by an archaeologist, an object of study, then swooned over in a museum, then maybe again, found lying on its side in a storage room, or on the floor of a gallery, being grouped with other objects by a curator who is piecing together another, more complicated story.”
What do you think of this assortment of contemporary ceramics? Let us know in the comments.