WASHINGTON D.C. — We’re excited to share some works from the Renwick’s Visions and Revisions invitational (September 9, 2016 – January 8, 2017). In particular, we’re digging the vases done by Steven Young Lee, who creates sculptural vessels that are deeply, but intentionally flawed. They have cracks, others look like they’re slumped over in submission to depression.
He’s joined in this show by Kristin Morgin, another favorite of ours, an artist whose works convey a deep sense of narrative and age.
We plan on highlighting the work of both artists in depth in the coming weeks, but for now enjoy these selections. We’re splitting notes from the Renwick along with an interview Lee gave to the Smithsonian. Enjoy!
Steven Young Lee blends Eastern and Western traditions with anachronistic, often playful imagery and striking pattern in his porcelain works. His process allows the clay forms to sink under their own weight in the kiln, creating dramatic “broken” silhouettes that can never be replicated. The resulting vessels embody equal parts mastery and chance, and reflect Lee’s own inquiries into the nature of perfection, the construction of identity and balancing tradition with personal expression.
Lee’s work deals with the migration of porcelain from the East to Europe and also touches, the decline of porcelain manufacturing and the dissonance between mass produced vs. handmade, maybe even flawed objects. He told the Smithsonian about how flaw changes the perception of value.
“People have visceral reactions to it—but if you meant to do that, it changes the value versus if you didn’t mean to do it,” he says. “In craft-based mediums, mastery of materials or your ability to execute it has an impact on how people create value. If it was happenstance, it changes how people perceive the work.”
“I’d create a crack and assume certain things would happen, but much different things would happen,” says Lee. “It became a process of letting go of expectation.”
Kristen Morgin takes an unconventional approach to ceramics, using her trompe l’oeil sculptures and assemblages to explore personal nostalgia, obsolescence, and the American dream. Her works, ranging in scale from recreations of full-size cars and orchestral instruments to tiny knick-knacks and toys, appear as found objects but are in fact raw, unfired clay. You can see more of her work here.
The exhibition includes more than 70 objects showcasing a range of early and new works by each artist. The artists were selected by Nora Atkinson, the museum’s Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft; Suzanne Ramljak, curator of exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts and editor at Metalsmith; and Anna Walker, the Windgate Foundation Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Craft at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Visions and Revisions is the seventh installment of the biennial Renwick Invitational.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.