Welcome to Spotted, your weekly roundup of ephemera from the world of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art! Kicking us off this week is Valerie Hegarty, with some pieces from her exhibition American Berserk now showing at Burning In Water (New York, October 6 – December 5, 2016).
Above image: Works by Valerie Hegarty.
Her work is topical as it is informed by “the current turbulent state of our country while also excavating from America’s past.” What we’re seeing here couldn’t be described as “decay,” as such, but her work seems to have a theme of the gooey-ness of information, of shared knowledge. We live in a post-fact society and consensus validation is Gospel. That, of course, leads to strange distortions of the truth— things that resemble fact, but are wholly alien to reality.
Valerie Hegarty, according to her biography, is a visual artist based in Brooklyn who creates paintings, sculptures, and installations that often address themes of memory, place and history. Hegarty’s solo exhibitions include Nicelle Beauchene, NY; Marlborough Gallery Chelsea; Locust Projects, Miami; Museum 52, London; The MCA in Chicago; and Guild & Greyshkul, NY, among others including a commission for a public sculpture on the High Line, NY and her most recent show of site-specific installations in The Brooklyn Museum’s period rooms. Hegarty received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a BFA from San Francisco’s Academy of Art College and a BA from Middlebury College, VT. Hegarty was the first Andrew W. Mellon Arts and the Common Good Artist-in-Residence at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey from 2014-2015.
Catherine Opie on Art in America Cover
Congratulations to photographer and fellow ex-pat Ohioan Catherine Opie on making the November 2016 cover of Art in America magazine. Now working out of Los Angeles where she is a teacher at UCLA, Opie’s work focuses on sexual identity, studio processes and landscape photography.
Works by Jennifer Lee
Not much to say here, other than our adoration of these wonderful vessels by Jennifer Lee at a recent exhibition at Erskine, Hall, and Coe. The red pot below comes from Lee’s stay in China working with new clays and may be her masterpiece to date, a magnificent vessel. From Lee’s biography:
Jennifer Lee was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1956.
From 1975 to 1979 she studied ceramics and tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art. She then spent eight months on a travelling scholarship to the USA where she researched South-West Indian prehistoric ceramics and visited contemporary West Coast potters.
From 1980 to 1983 she continued her work in ceramics at the Royal College of Art in London. Since then her travels have included trips to Egypt, India, Australia and Japan as well as Europe and the USA.
Lee’s pots are hand built and she has developed a method of colouring them by mixing metallic oxides into the clay before making.
Jewelry Made from Discarded Brick
Material foraged out of the Hudson River and Rondout Creek are shifted in form and used to explore the post-industrial landscape, regional histories, visibility and camouflage, the human impulse to adorn, and cultural substitutions/additions/deletions.
The brickworks that once occupied the shores of the Hudson River and its tributaries used the banks to discard failed fired bricks. These failures are the containers of the hope, pride, greed, labor, sweat, and process of a rich industrial culture. The now exhausted clay deposit, dug from these same banks, returns; a prodigal son, formed, hardened, humbled, repentant. Transformed from their natural state by fire but unusable as building materials, they exist as erratics, each possessing a characteristic naming it as aberration, odd, unsuitable.
Slowly they transform again, this time by the tidewaters, breaking down not into what they were, but into something new. Added to the river ecosystem as discards they become a decorative surface–both coarse and fine. As remains of an exhausted resource and defunct process they become a finite material.
As a material found in but not belonging to the landscape they become a way to examine place, history, and the ways we carry both with us. The fruits of the river–oysters, shad, sturgeon–replaced by brickworks, cement, mineral mines, and stone quarries. As European immigrants settled the land and displaced the native Algonquin speaking tribes, culture and its produce also shifted from hunter to farmer to industry. From shell, bone, and skin to pearl, metal, and silk.
Terracotta Jesus Turns Heads
Closing us out for the day is this story that’s been making its rounds on the Internet for about a week or so ago. A white stone sculpture of Mary and the baby Jesus outside of Saint Anne des Pins Catholic Church in Sudbury was defaced (eh? eh?) by vandals, not once but multiple times. The (literal) iconoclasts made their masterstroke against the statue when they stole the head entirely. Replacing the head would have cost a remarkable $7,000.
This hurt the feelings of artist Heather Wise, who had no stone carving skills but did take a sculpting class in college. She offered to replace the head with a terracotta one. It’s now weathering quickly in the rain and is drawing comparisons to Maggie Simpson. I feel like the attention on Wise is a little unfair. Mary looks like she’s been marathoning bonghits for hours.
If this feels familiar, you may remember another story of a well-meaning, but delusional artist: 81-year-old Cecilia Gimenez, who worked on the infamous Jesus fresco restoration in Spain.
Mock these artists if you want, but here is an excellent model for faith: belief that one can move mountains, absent any evidence to support that. I don’t like the end result, but I believe in the truth of the deed.
Bill Rodgers is the Managing Editor of cfile.daily.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.