The American Museum of Ceramic Art is honored to present Best Kept Secret: The Scripps College Ceramic Collection, an exhibition organized by The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College. Curated by Kirk Delman, Collections Manager and Registrar, the exhibition will feature work from the Scripps College Ceramic Collection. The show will provide viewers insights into the contributions of individual donors and an opportunity to assess the RCWG’s achievements as a collecting institution for more than six decades.
During the mid-1950s the ceramics department at Otis Art Institute (then Los Angeles County Art Institute) was a place of artistic vitality and innovative energy. At Otis, Peter Voulkos led a “revolution in clay” by questioning the tradition that ceramic forms must be utilitarian and by creating instead nonfunctional, sculptural works that gave the medium a new freedom of expression. Voulkos and other notable artists maintained the momentum of this philosophy in Northern California at U.C. Berkeley.
The Scripps Collection is also remarkable in that much of it came to the college through one donor, Fred Marer, who was a teacher of modest means. Fred Marer was a mathematics professor at Los Angeles City College, and never had substantial resources, but amassed his collection slowly through actual contact with the artists themselves. Because his budget was limited, he most often bought works directly from the artists. Fred began collecting in the early 1940s, first acquiring a piece by one of the leading ceramists in Southern California, Laura Andreson. This purchase piqued his interest in clay and encouraged him to investigate further.
It was due to the influence of renowned ceramist Paul Soldner, who came to Scripps after graduating from Otis and built the Scripps ceramic program into a major center of study. Soldner’s leadership of the Scripps program along with the Scripps Ceramic Annual (celebrated its 70th ceramic annual exhibition in January, 2014), were the prime reasons Marer decided to make this generous gift to the college.
This exhibition of more than one hundred and eighty objects will include works from the Otis group as well as highlighting many others, including, Laura Andreson, Robert Arneson, Hans Coper, Phil Cornelius, Shoji Hamada, Jun Kaneko, John Mason, and Jim Melchert.
Opening Reception: Friday, February 7, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
5:30 - Artist Talk by Adrian Esparza
6:00 - Artist Talk by Christine Nofchissey McHorse
The opening will also feature Spectra by Adrian Esparza in the Front Gallery. Open studios by current resident artists to follow talks.
In Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) presents works by one of the most innovative contemporary forces in Native American pottery. Working from traditional materials and techniques, Christine Nofchissey McHorse’s vessel-based art blends the boundaries of pottery and sculpture, erasing the line between function and form. As the Navajo artist’s first traveling exhibition, the show exhibits the unadorned sophistication of the sultry curves, black satiny surfaces, and modern forms of her Dark Light series, created from 1997 to present. An amalgam of Puebloan, Navajo, and contemporary influences, each sculpture possesses a cultural splendor that is as fertile as the Northern New Mexico riverbeds where McHorse harvests her clay.
Through the unadulterated beauty of micaceous clay and with Puebloan construction techniques learned from her Taos mother-in-law, McHorse transforms her sketches into voluminous shapes that swell upwards like a natural spring. Dismissing the rudimentary forms that define Native American ethnic identity in craft, she returns to primordial shapes, akin to the modern aesthetic of Henri Moore. Experimenting with shape, mass, volume, and line, she creates organic vessels in the vein of her ancestors, who recognized the spiritual power of water, air, and earth.
To complement her natural forms, McHorse gives each piece its own unique skin by pushing the boundaries of a raw material. Traditionally used for cookware and valued for its structural integrity, micaceous clay permits McHorse to build thin-walled structures that can withstand high temperatures, yielding a black satiny finish. The darkness of the fired clay provides a dramatic contrast to the tiny bits of reflective mica, glistening as light dances across each piece. Using light gradation as her palette, McHorse controls the presence of light by creating differently textured surfaces that either catch or reflect the light. When combined with the elegance of each sculpture’s form, the element of light in McHorse’s works renders a captivating visual experience.
Born in Morenci, AZ, in 1948, Christine Nofchissey McHorse is a first generation, full-blooded Navajo ceramic artist. After marrying Joel McHorse, a Taos Pueblo Indian, she learned to make pots through his grandmother, Lena Archuleta, who taught her to work with micaceous clay, a rare but naturally occurring clay high in mica content that can be found in the Taos area. McHorse has since become one of the most admired and successful Native potters, working with traditional techniques but making the kind of reductive, sculptural pots that one would have expected Brancusi to make, were he alive today.
From 1963 – 1968, McHorse studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, where her studio is now located. She has received numerous awards from the SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her works are in the collections of the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Museum of New Mexico, the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the Navajo Nation Museum, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. McHorse also has the unique distinction of winning Best in Show for both pottery and sculpture at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.
Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse is organized by The Ceramic Arts Foundation, New York, NY, and curated by Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio.
"Şirin Koçak sticks in our mind with her works in which senses, experiences, broken hearts, and memories of today and the past are blended with a deep and shocking taste. Traces from the past finds a new integrity and expression in her both subjective and universal works made of ceramic clay.
First of all, Koçak prefers to use all the advantages of ceramic clay to the utmost in her works. Natural structural properties of clay and the identity codes forming the virtual identity of clay come to life again in her works. As in “Line” series, consciously unremoved traces of the production techniques can become the main purpose of the study. We can see the story of clay out of these traces, and we are left alone with the reflections of these traces in our inner world. The linear structure on the surface establishes a direct relationship between a function like “drinking” and “touch-tactile” features. Pure and tactile effects of hand shaping present the visual expressions of mankind’s existence as a part of nature in “Light” series, which are full of Neolithic allusions. These works being the integral parts of an archaic expression question the association of the substance with light. They emphasize the significance of the footprint of the matter in the universe, and the space. Concave and convex structures gain new dimensions with different reflections of light and create an illusion effect in places. We see the traces of this inner space also in closed forms of “Circle” series. Although the forms stand out with their natural linear glazed textures on them, the inner space is full of the load of inner energy imprisoned in a body.
Ups and downs in life, happiness and disappointment are the witnesses of her subjective history in Şirin Koçak’s works.
"Days of one heart" project is a cinematographic-photographic expression of this witnessing. Koçak describes this work in her sensory language: “this work is so special to me! The work in the form of a single heart is presented with its photographs in new stories which take place in different venues, and in the hands of different people. This heart has been an object that has been with me anytime anywhere in this two-year period that I felt all alone. Without prior planning, I took photos of the object in different places and tried to reflect the object’s (my) mood. The journal of one and same object… sometimes it was cracked, and I repaired it, sometimes it was broken, and I fixed it; my fighting spirit that still continues to exist”. Although the photographed places are examples of a spontaneous selection, their coexistence with the ceramic heart takes us to different fictive worlds. Sometimes a door sill and sometimes a pond presents an opportunity to navigate our own dream world. That a vital organ such as heart is left such open and exposed refers to unprotectedness and finding life in any condition. The presence of heart disembodied reveals the contradictions that make our life meaningful.
Şirin Koçak pushes the boundaries of traditional and cliché expressions of ceramic. The photographic expressions and different materials that she uses in her works help ceramic to be regarded as a modern art medium.
One mustn’t think that she is an artist who is technique-dependent and focuses on technique since some techniques such as Naked Raku are in front in her works. Şirin Koçak is an artist who can use all the advantages of different techniques in different production processes consciously and skillfully. A dream explorer travelling around senses, experiences, and upsets…”
Words by Kemal Tizgöl
Almine Rech Gallery is pleased to announce ‘The Lovers’, the first solo exhibition by William J. O’Brien in France.
Prior to a major survey exhibition of the young American artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this exhibition brings together a series of ceramic sculptures made between 2008 and 2013, and a series of new works on paper. This exhibition reflects the diversity of mediums and themes found in O’Brien’s work for almost ten years.
William J. O’Brien is part of the return to ceramics in contemporary art, seen over the last ten years with artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Thomas Schütte and subsequently taken on by a younger generation of artists. His ceramic sculptures reflect the extent of his vocabulary by developing complementary or opposite forms: they oscillate between matt and gloss, between anthropomorphic shapes with smudges and drips; as well as geometric abstraction reminiscent of Calder. The shaping hand always present, there is a primitive element that immediately stands out – whether referencing the grinning masks of the South Pacific or the plastic qualities found in the culture of native Americans. For O’Brien this is not an identity issue nor a tribute to a native history: the artist was born in Ohio, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, so his use of primitive forms is more akin to Picasso, Paul Klee or the Surrealists; taking an oppositional stance relative to a certain automated sophistication of form found in many artists of his generation. O’Brien’s ceramic practice skillfully plays with this return to primary expressionism (it is curious to note that the artist was an instructor at a center for the mentally ill), a representation of the human sometimes flirting with the grotesque, but presented on pedestals made by the artist, an institutional device that is simultaneously perfect and ironic. This primitive and modernist dual heritage is also an important anchor in teaching at the Art Institute and on Chicago Art, which shapes the sensibilities of such artists as Nancy Spero or more recently Sterling Ruby. Indeed, one of the first group shows to introduce O’Brien was “Modern Primitivism” at the Shane Campbell Gallery in 2009. The Lovers affords us the possibility to understand the extent of his expression, both sensitive and informed.
Born in 1975 in Eastlake, Ohio, William J. O‘Brien lives and works in Chicago. Recent and important exhibitions include Wet ‘N Wild at Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, 2013); The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS, 2012); Works on Paper at SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art (Cleveland, Ohio, 2011); and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (Chicago, 2011). The artist‘s first major survey exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago in January 2014.
Words by Judith Souriau
Anders Ruhwald and Matt Ziemke at The Clay Studio, Philadelphia
February 7 - March 2, 2014
The Clay Studio will host a reception for Cranbrook Alumni on Saturday Feburary 8th at 2pm. Matt Ziemkie will give a Gallery Talk at 3 pm within his solo exhibition Adrift and Anders Ruhwald will give a gallery talk at 3.30 pm within his solo exhibition Almost Everything.
Anders Ruhwald: Almost Everything / Harrison Gallery
Danish-born artist Anders Ruhwald makes art that is “a meditation on utility, the history of ceramics and object-hood”. Almost Everything was created in 2009 and has been exhibited at galleries in five European countries before making its United States debut at The Clay Studio.
Ruhwald has lectured and taught at universities and colleges around Europe and North America since 2006 and has held an associate professorship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently he is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Ceramics Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, USA.
Matt Ziemke: Adrift / Reed-Smith Gallery
Former Clay Studio Resident Artist Matt Ziemke draws his inspiration from the tense relationship between the landscape and those who live and build within it. His ceramic forms reflect his broad vision of material culture that leans harder on industry than domesticity. His installations are drawn from the vast reservoirs of familiar (but practically invisible) structures that dot the modern landscape.
Matt Ziemke received his MFA in 2011 from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He has exhibited widely in the United States and is currently serving as a Visiting Artist in Ceramics and Adjunct Instructor at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.
Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1941, Lynda Benglis moved to New York City in the late 60s. Her early, ground-breaking work – landscape-like, sculptural installations of poured polyurethane foam and latex – confronted the then-current, male-dominated tropes of Minimalism with brightly-colored, biomorphic forms which embraced themes of ambiguity, femininity, nature and transformation. Their formal ambiguity resisted easy definition: Benglis has long critiqued the art world’s attempt at classifications and hierarchies, as well as societal boundaries of sexuality and gender. Simultaneously seductive and grotesque, Benglis’s work has always been the result of a fluid and organic working process, in which difficult-to-control materials help determine the final outcome. Her ceramic sculptures, though more intimate in scale, are also constructed with deference to the medium’s inherent characteristics. While the clay works accentuate issues she has addressed throughout her career – the blurring of distinctions between pliable and rigid, accidental and intentional, form and shapelessness – they also expand the scope of her artistic methods, engaging notions of craft, functionality, and primeval history.
Benglis had experimented with clay as a student in the early 1960s, but didn’t pursue it as a medium until the early 1990s. Her newest work, made in New Mexico, retain the earthy, elemental, primal nature of clay, and highlight the material’s unique susceptibility to the artist’s touch: clay easily preserves the physical impressions of the hands which mold it. Benglis does not use a potter’s wheel, but hand-builds with tubes and slabs of clay, pinching, stacking, squeezing, pulling and smoothing them into complex sculptural compositions. Sometimes wave-like and lyrical, sometimes squat and spherical, Benglis’s ceramics explore various manifestations, excavations and manipulations of form. She collapses the boundaries between interior and exterior space, using both hollowed out and compacted elements which collide and fuse together reinforcing the sexual undercurrents of her muscular, polymorphic shapes.
Benglis’s ceramics condense the full-bodied gesture of her earlier work into the more focused expressions of her hands. As with her other work, color becomes an equally important component. Benglis’s glazes – pinks and mauves, earthy greens, blacks, ochres, and blues – are oozed, dripped, brushed and poured on, coalescing in some areas and avoiding others, providing texture and variability to the already tactile, unglazed surface of the clay. Benglis’s painterly application of glaze re-contextualizes her forms, as if they were not sculptural, but paintings in three-dimensional, physical space. Again, ambiguity and transformation remain at the core of her practice. Benglis’s creative process is evident in her works’ final realization: one imagines its physical making and thus identifies with the intensity and focus of her artistic methodology.
Lynda Benglis resides in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is in important public collections, and has been exhibited extensively. Benglis was the subject of a 2010-11 international retrospective which traveled to The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Le Consortium, Dijon; New Museum, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Artist reception: Friday, February 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
Locks Gallery is pleased to present The Meaning of Time, the first solo exhibition in the United States by the Korean artist Yeesookyung, on view February 7 through March 15, 2014. This exhibition is intended to be a contemporary perspective in dialogue with the nationally touring exhibition of Korean Joseon Dynasty artifacts that will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on March 2, 2014. An illustrated catalog of the works will accompany the exhibition with an essay by writer Robert C Morgan.
In this exhibition, Yee revisits traditional Korean arts in work featuring porcelain and gold sculptures, silk scroll paintings, and a video dance performance. This work reflects both a wisdom from decades of conceptual art practice and a rigorous formal training in her elegant craftsmanship. Identifying herself as a “local artist,” Yee’s work reflects poetically on specific Korean cultural traditions and histories. But in the context of globalization, the work poignantly reflects how traditions taken from the past are re-imagined and recontextualized.
Known internationally for her Translated Vase series, Yee collects porcelain shards from Korean ceramists who make reproductions of Joseon Dynasty white porcelain and Goryeo Dynasty celadon masterworks. By making intuitive voluptuous forms out of their “trash”, Yee employs the traditional method of repairing ceramics with gold. Meanwhile the works play with language as gold and crack (both “geum”) are homonyms in Korean.
Also on view are recent silk scroll paintings from the series Flame Variation. Echoing the graphic iconographic style of the wall paintings of the Gorguryeo Tombs with the spatial organization of symmetrical Buddhist paintings, Yee combines traditional religious imagery with that of fairy tales, cartoons, myths, and allegories. From a distance the scrolls appear to be traditional artifacts, but upon further inspection they are captivating in their non-linear narratives and distinctly contemporary graphic content.
Yeesookyung’s video dance work, Twin Dance, is an extended meditation on Kyo Bang Choom, a traditional Korean dance performed by women of the Joseon Dynasty. The work explores a relationship with symmetry akin to the silk scroll paintings. The video completes this constellation of works that represent her recent conceptual investigations into Korean cultural traditions with distinctly contemporary approaches.
Yeesookyung (b. 1963) is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Seoul, Korea. She recieved both her undergraudate degree and MFA in painting from the National University in Seoul. The artist has completed residencies at Villa Arson, Apex Art, and the Bronx Museum. Yee’s work has been shown internationally at the 6th Gwanju Biennale (2006), ARCO (2007), the 5th Liverpool Biennal (2008) the Vancouver Biennale (2009), the Buson Biennale (2010), and the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012). She has been included in notable recent exhibitions including “Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012” at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, the 2012 Korea Art Prize exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korean Eye 2012 at Saatchi Gallery in London, and The Collectors Show: WEight of History at the Singapore Art Museum in 2012. Her works can be found in the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, IFEMA ARCO Collection in Madrid, Echigo-Tsumari City Collection Japan, Saatchi Collection in London, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, among others.
Opening reception: Thursday, February 6th, from 8 pm.
The Opaque Palace transforms the exhibition spaces of TENT into an installation in which the monumental sculptures of Anne Wenzel (DE, lives and works in Rotterdam) provide a coherent representation of the major themes in her work – power, destruction, heroism, history – and a new series of sculptures are introduced. Daria de Beauvais, from Palais de Tokyo, Paris, has curated the exhibition. With Anne Wenzel’s solo exhibition, her largest yet, TENT celebrates the re-opening of its newly renovated building.
The Opaque Palace exhibition unfolds as a route through an abandoned palace laden with old, long forgotten stories. A palace where light enters through a broken window, and a net curtain is stirred by the breeze. For her largest solo exhibition yet, Anne Wenzel uses works from the past decade to construct a mental puzzle in TENT. With every space you enter, the function, symbolism, and impact of the objects seem to be further derailed, until they seemingly dislodge from their traditional meaning: sculptures become trophies (or quite the opposite), either paying tribute to heroes or denying heroism altogether. Anne Wenzel’s work resists any interpretation lurking behind their undeniable physicality.
In the monumental emptiness of the main hall, which could be interpreted as a ballroom, a black chandelier has slumped before a wall of shiny gold; the object of light becomes an extinguished mass. In TENT’s back space, Wenzel presents her latest series of works, Attempted Decadence: a group of lavishly decorated ceramic flower sculptures. What life remains – temporarily saved by the art – is already a witness to its own decline. In this ‘Opaque Palace’, everyone is free to reinvent the past that made visions like this possible.
From a strong historical sense and with great political engagement, Anne Wenzel puts the role of art in the portrayal of power, heroism, and violence in another light. She is renowned for her self-determined approach to handling materials and technology. Experimenting with extremes of scale, chemical additions, and radical deformation, she seeks out the boundaries of the sculptural medium. Wenzel draws inspiration for her monumental ceramic sculptures from historical sources, film, and literature, as well as from the media and its newsworthy images of natural disasters, conflict, and acts of war. Her attention to universal subjects connects her to a growing number of artists who transcend post-modern irony and are not afraid to, again, address existential themes.
Wenzel has lived and worked in Rotterdam since 1999. Her work is included in museum collections (Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Stedelijk Museum ‘s Hertogenbosch, S.M.A.K. Ghent, et al.) and in many private collections. She is represented by gallery AKINCI in Amsterdam, Galerie Tatjana Pieters in Ghent, and Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve in Paris.
Accompanying the exhibition is an extensive monograph, Anne Wenzel - Prospects of Perception, published by Lecturis in collaboration with TENT and designed by 75B. It includes texts by Philippe Van Cauteren (director S.M.A.K. Ghent), Sjarel Ex (director Museum Boijmans van Beuningen), Daria de Beauvais (curator Palais de Tokyo, Paris) and Mariette Dölle (artistic director TENT), and photographs of her most important sculptures and installations from the past decade.
Erskine, Hall & Coe is pleased to present an exhibition of the work of James Tower in February. This will be Tower’s first solo show in London since 1986.
James Tower is one of the most distinguished ceramic artists of the 20th century. His ceramics are unique for their visual effects which suggest that he responded to nature and his environment. He became an established artist in the 1950’s and exhibited alongside such artists as Barbara Hepworth and William Scott. A goal of Tower’s was to achieve a quality in his work that ‘is perhaps best defined as a sense of completion. A longing for a serene harmonious whole which contains dynamism and vitality, satisfying our intellectual and spiritual needs.’ —James Tower
Tower’s work was reminiscent of the world around him. He worked to develop an abstracted style of the natural environment:
There is a sense of water running between rocks, patterns on a butterfly’s wings, spots on a fish’s skin, clouds on a wintery day, stripes on a zebra’s back, ribs of a human chest and the multiple leaves of a compressed succulent in the myriad forms of James’s work. His genius was to synthesise and make of these inspirations in which he delighted things in themselves (excerpt from Anthony Gormley’s introduction in Timothy Wilcox’s book, ‘The Ceramic Art of James Tower’).
Born in Kent in 1919, Tower studied at the Royal Academy, and then at the Slade School of Art, where he discovered an interest in English slipware and became fascinated with ceramics. During the 1960’s and 70’s, he was Head of Pottery at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, and Head of Sculpture at Brighton Polytechnic.
Tower’s artwork is owned by many public collections throughout the UK and the United States, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and The Art Institute of Chicago.
The exhibition at Erskine, Hall & Coe will comprise of twenty-five vessels, plates and sculptures, and is fully illustrated on our website. The gallery has worked very closely with James Tower’s family and with Timothy Wilcox, author of the book ‘The Ceramic Art of James Tower,’ to put this exhibition together. Wilcox’s book will be available for purchase at the exhibition.