Constance McBride: The Lonely Girls, 2013

In this series, works depicting physical aging and a gendered issue surrounding dementia are engaged from a female point of view. Questions surrounding social responsibility are visited through an intimate look at a mother’s dilemma. My focus shifted to my mother after a few years of observing and caring for her while she navigated her days living with Alzheimer’s disease. My mother’s countenance emerges in the work through clay figures over a period of time and through multiplicity. By investigating concrete representations and creating situations that the viewer will identify with, I hope to engage the viewer in a deeper way.

The Dance of Infinity

Article by Hagai Segev, 2014

“Up until two years ago, my father, Yaakov, had an agricultural mechanization workshop. Every time I visited the workshop, I found myself entranced by the power of the iron boards and the pile of black and rust colored iron pipes of different diameters, waiting to be used”, Simcha Even-Chen reminisces.

“When I saw the call for entries for the contest and exhibition at Kapfenberg, Austria, entitled “At the Moment”, I decided to use these memories of my father’s workshop. This was the birth of “A Moment Before…” a work I created in 2009, which has since led to the growth of a whole body of works”.1

Simcha Even-Chen Contemporary Ceramics

A moment before…, 2009, Mixtures of stoneware and porcelain, 11.5 x 30 x 24 cm.

The memories that awakened this body are the evolution of the artistic research Even-Chen had been immersed in during the period of 2006-2009. This group of sculptures, entitled “Illusion”, was exhibited at The Fifth Israeli Ceramics Biennale at The Eretz Israel Museum (2008), among other places, and even received the Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award. The article that appeared in the biennale catalogue read: “Simcha Even-Chen creates arrays of objects, reminiscent of game pieces. The pieces and geometric shapes simulate complex mathematical relations, based on scientific principles of simplification, alongside an awareness of the complexity of the game”.2

In her works from the period of 2009-2010, as her research progressed, the cubic shapes and structures gained a softer sculptural presence. They were positioned on solid, dominant foundations, where the first, barely noticeable signs of a light, flowing motion began to appear. In a piece named “Triple Balance” (2010), the massiveness and relatively harsh geometry of the top object is softened somewhat by the gentle presence of the foundation, which seemingly serves as only that, but its connection suggests an integrated statement, alongside a message of contrasts. This piece was featured in important exhibitions in Italy and Korea.3

In the piece entitled “Motion” (2011), all the elements of movement and flow can for the first time, be seen in the object itself, while the pattern printed on the object surface continues to explore the geometric shape, namely, the grid, which stands out against the background of evenly hued material. This piece was awarded first prize in an exhibition in Slovenia.4

Simcha Even-Chen Contemporary Ceramic art

Motion, 2011, Mixtures of stoneware and porcelain, 25 x 46 x 25 cm.

“My decision to add the element of movement to the existing physical balance gave birth to the open, broad, flowing motions and expanded the variety of imaginary shapes”, says Even-Chen. Her intentional break-away from defined shapes gave way to a new abundance of form, organic and free. The well-defined lines of geometric shapes were unleashed, and became the flowing lines that outline the movements of a dance, in which the body of the dancer is pushed to its limit. The flowing lines move in circles, twist, constrict and expand again. They face the material’s ability to carry itself to the limits of its natural properties.

While her earlier works studied the foundations of the material, these works examine its potential to reach infinity. Even-Chen’s work tests the material’s point of collapse, asking which points need to be supported to prevent the structure from breaking down or falling. This constant fear of collapse can be seen even now, when the sculptures are fired and stable. Their fragility is present in each and every moment. Within this fragility lies a hidden power: the almost inconceivable resilience of gentleness.

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Matthew Szösz: Complications / Zane Bennett Gallery, Sante Fe

Matthew Szosz Glass exhibition at Zane Bennett Galery

Matthew Szösz: Complications / Zane Bennett Gallery, Sante Fe
June 27 - July 19, 2014

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art is pleased to announce Complications, an exhibition of works in glass by Matthew Szösz. The opening is Friday, June 27, at the gallery, from 5-7 pm as part of the Railyard Arts District Last Friday Artwalk.

Matthew Szösz, born in Providence Rhode Island, resides and practices in northern California. He holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, a Bachelor’s of Industrial Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Glass all from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and has been awarded grants by prestigious institutions in his field such as the L.C. Tiffany Foundation. Szösz has held numerous artist residencies all over the world including the Danish Royal Academy. Szösz has an extremely impressive resume for an artist of such a young age.

Szösz’s creative process involves investigation of his chosen materials, resulting in a dance or a dialogue between artist and material. His interest lies in the moment of transformation which is what fuels his impulse to create.

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Jamie Bates Slone: Phenotypes, 2014

I have developed a process utilizing my knowledge of various casting methods and glaze, chemistry to create forms made entirely glaze. The color and texture is appealing and repulsive at the same time. When viewed through a magnifying glass the surface resembles Scanning Electron Micrographs of cancer cells. The fragile and fleeting appearance of these pieces symbolizes the transient nature of human life. This series of glaze, casted hands represent the genetic passing of disease from generation to generation. It is my fear that my family’s history with cancer is somehow genetic.

Watt’s Up? Ceramics and Light / Bernardaud Foundation, Limoges, France

Watt’s Up? Ceramics and Light / Bernardaud Foundation, Limoges, France
June 13 - November 29, 2014

Watt’s Up? explores the relationship between ceramics and light by presenting some thirty works of art from all over the world, all created in recent years. Oddly enough, this relationship seems to inspire artists more than designers, trained to create objects such as lamps. Perhaps that’s because light transcends objects and gives us a whole new take on the world. Light affects our vision by modifying our perception of space and movement. In addition, there is a symbolic, poetic and mysterious element to it. As the French author Jean Giono once put it, very clever mysteries hide in the light. If light and ceramics go hand in hand, it’s mainly courtesy of porcelain’s unique properties of translucency, which can give light – produced by a candle or a tungsten filament – a soft, poetic aura and elicit a feeling of wonder. Ceramics offers a broad palette of sensations to play with. Faience is heavy, glossy and sensual in its interaction with light. Pottery absorbs lux units and asserts its own material plasticity to counter the intangible nature of light. Porcelain is lightweight and translucent, and the matte aspect of unglazed biscuit forms a striking contrast with the gloss of the glaze. Watt’s Up? is an unprecedented investigation of the latest innovations and know-how, both sensorial and intellectual in scope. As the topic was complex and broke new ground, it took nearly two years of research to bring these thirty or so works together. These works are by fifteen artists exhibiting for the first time in France. They are the result of technical prowess – manual and technical – as well as fresh creative thinking. None of them represent any particular school of thought, creative trend or artistic movement. Each work is an explosion of creativity, born of the artist’s reflections and inspiring a sense of wonder. This exhibition sheds new light on the art of ceramics.

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Tristan Stamm: Collections, 2014, Work in progress

Originally a collection of 26 seedlings/penises, with the tallest being 29 inches and the smallest at 3 inches.

I had a hard time finding a way to show this collection of seedlings/penises, and eventually found their space when surrounded by my other work.

I am now working on finding their place in other environments while exploring the idea of collecting and obsessions.

Seth Czaplewski: Onsite Sculpture, 2013-2014

While researching North St. Louis I have uncovered a history of production and self-sufficiency pushed to the periphery, which today is so prevalent in American society that we barely notice. In the early 1800’s the area just North of downtown St. Louis was a communal farmland for residents. There was also a 15-acre plot along the Mississippi river open to residents to use as they wanted.  Both ideas were very progressive for their time and still are, although neither is still in place today. European immigrants once flocked to this area due to failed farming in their homeland. In the case of Henry Overstolz, originally from Germany, once in America his fortune changed when he opened grocery stores. Since then the rapid development of infrastructure has led to a society of convenience. And once again, like in Overstolz’ time of the mid 1800’s, people have fled, as the site cannot meet the needs of the people. My works are inspired by and situated on sites like these.

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Territorios Conmovidos / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Latinoamericano MACLA, La Plata, Argentina

Territorios Conmovidos exhibition at MACLA, La Plata 2014

Territorios Conmovidos / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Latinoamericano MACLA, La Plata, Argentina
May 15 - June 29, 2014

Curated by Lucía Savloff.

The exhibition was born from the sensations that were aroused to a group of artists from La Plata after the perception of what happened during the terrible flood that hit their city last April 2nd of 2013. The artworks of Marcela Cabutti, Mariela Cantú, Gabriel Fino, Graciela Olio and Paula Massarutti display a diverse set of poetics that allows us to think about how the construction of images and artistic devices participates in the process of building a collective memory.

Certain circumstances constitute an event to the extent that causes a deviation in the course of our everyday experience. Natural or social tectonic movements displace the foundations on which we build us. The unpredictable breaks, hits, and then opens, letting us see what was below that which has been moved. The flood brought our attention to what we usually don´t look, putting our fragility in public, and revealing that the way we live, build and socially act modifies the territory we inhabit. The artworks in this exhibition do not try to “represent” what happened. The artists conceive the practice of memory from the field of poetry, creating works and devices that function as meeting spaces that enables dialogues unknown a priori. As blocks of sensations or resonance boxes, the artworks create meeting infrastructures and invite to build from its empty spaces.

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Michael Geertsen: Still Life, Still Lives / Jason Jacques Gallery, New York

Michael Geertsen exhibition at Jason Jacques Gallery

Michael Geertsen: Still Life, Still Lives / Jason Jacques Gallery, New York
May 21 - June 21, 2014

Jason Jacques Gallery is pleased to announce its second contemporary exhibition with contemporary ceramic master Michael Geertsen. Following a ceramic installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and a show at Puls Ceramics in his native Denmark, Michael Geertsen has come back to show in New York. Geertsen is known for sleek ceramic works with alien-like sculptural bodies, and stacked sculptures of utilitarian objects like plates and cups. His whimsical and animated forms are executed with machine-like precision, thanks to his background in industrial ceramics. Michael claims American streamline design and Italian Futurism as his primary influences.

His most recent works have reinterpreted ancient Greek pottery, taking the classical forms and integrating them with modernist elements. He adds antlers, knobs and nipples in metallic gold and platinum. The gold and platinum protrusions create mirror like reflections which, when placed next to other works, distort the forms further, shifting perceptions of their form or shape.

Geertsen says his use of gold and silver is a nod to Western decadence. He started using these elements in his work while exploring Soviet constructivism where Gold and silver screamed hedonism, abundance and American kitsch. The use of gold and silver is also a reaction against 1960’s naturalistic pottery, making the works cheeky and stylized. The artist and scholar Edmond de Waals described his work as always “questioning the place that ceramics has inhabited, as well as the place that ceramics will inhabit in the future.” Michael’s most recent innovations have made that statement even more fitting.

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Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release / Tina Kim Gallery, New York

Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release exhibition at Tina Kim Gallery

Alexandra Lerman: Immediate Release / Tina Kim Gallery, New York
May 1 - June 28, 2014

Tina Kim Gallery is pleased to present Alexandra Lerman’s first solo exhibition, Immediate Release.

A coincidence of the calendar becomes a critical frame. The first of May commemorates May Day, an ancient folk festival meant to awaken the wintering body through conviviality, dance, and song, also, International Workers’ Day, the 20th century’s concession to the solidarity of laboring bodies in almost every country of the world. The 1st of May saw the opening of Immediate Release, the new exhibition of multi-media artist Alexandra Lerman.

Alexandra Lerman’s Immediate Release presents a multi-layered installation of drawings, terracotta tablets, ceramics, and performance by Madeline Hollander that literally and metaphorically diagrams the capture of the body by the intersecting forces of technology, capital, and representation. The inauguration of a new kind of May Day, then, that understands that the body’s movements are no longer simply instrumentalized through the mechanics of labor, but also by the codification of its informal moments of respite: social communication, relaxation, aesthetic expression.

Two walls of the gallery are hung with terracotta maps depicting the gallery staff’s circulation through the space, traced by a finger dragged across the wet tablet’s surface and finished with a pinch, a now ubiquitous gesture for minimization, for which Apple briefly owned a patent. On an adjacent wall, Sumi ink drawings on legal forms render the 26 poses of Bikram Yoga, which tried to license to traditional, commonly-held wisdom of the body movements it taught. These components supplied a kind of elementary formal dictionary for Hollander’s choreographed performance that unfolded in front of them: at the opening, and then again on May 10th, the gallery’s central column become a kind of maypole for four dancers who looped through a series of movement sequences abstracted from Apple Inc.’s touch screen gestures, BikramChoudhury Yoga Inc. poses, and moves from Balanchine™ Ballet. In the intervening time, the stage around the column has been strewn with freestanding ceramic totems impressed with the positions the body takes during the performance.

At one level, the performance exists as the corollary release to the implicit capture of the body through the licensed systems of movement it borrows from: emancipation through appropriation. The movements are loosed from their various proprietary rationalizations and applications, existing momentarily for and by themselves. And yet the intentionally awkward and repetitive choreography also asks where exactly is this body being released into? Not just a commercial gallery, but, more generally, another regime of representation that may prove to be no less administered.

We are reminded that the original spirit of the folk May Day, like every bacchanal, was not just immediate release but temporary release, too, sanctioned only by its agreement to be defined as an exception. In this way, Lerman’s art is also like the festival: not an outside, but an interval- the moment of the body in mid-air, when the feet have left the ground and not yet returned.
—A.E. Benenson

Immediate Release is curated by Ceren Erdem.
Alexandra Lerman (born 1980, St. Petersburg, Russia) lives and works in New York. Lerman completed her MFA at Columbia University in 2012 and received her BFA from Cooper Union in 2004. Lerman’s individual and collaborative projects have been shown at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, Anthology Film Archived, Austrian Cultural Forum, Artists Space, Janos Gat Gallery, the New Museum in New York, MUSAC in Spain, and the Hermitage in Russia. For 2012-2013, Lerman was a resident at LMCC Workspace Program, New York; in August, 2012 she took part at The Banff Centre Visual Arts Program: 01 The Retreat: A Position of dOCUMENTA (13), Alberta, Canada; from 2014 through 2016 she is taking part in the Open Sessions at the Drawing Center, New York. In 2012 Lerman co-founded Torrance Shipman Gallery, an artist run space in Brooklyn.   

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Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics at Contemporary Craft

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh
April 25 - November 1, 2014

The Transformation series, one of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s signature programs, was established in 1997 as a biennial juried exhibition focusing on traditional craft media–glass, wood, metal, clay, and found materials–in rotation. The exhibition seeks out an international selection of artists redefining their medium to create work that is challenging and thought provoking; inviting us all to reconsider our notion of “craft.”

This year’s focus is on clay. Clay has been used, decorated, coveted, and collected for thousands of years, yet in the hands of contemporary artists this irresistible medium continues to surprise through innovative techniques, forms, and functions. Visitors are invited to see what happens when makers push the boundaries of time-honored craft materials—right before our eyes, something old is new again.

In conjunction with each Transformation exhibition, the jurors award the participating artist whose work best displays the tenets of excellence and innovation the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize. Named in honor of SCC’s founder, the award is accompanied by a $5000 cash prize.

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics features the work of all 31 of the Raphael Prize finalists, a selection of internationally recognized and emerging artists. The exhibition highlights outstanding and innovative examples of contemporary works in clay, all of which have been created within the last year. The work of three regional artists—Chuck Johnson of Venango, PA, Erica Nickol of Pittsburgh, PA, and Ian Thomas of Slippery Rock, PA—is included in the exhibition.

Linda Swanson of Montreal, Quebec has been selected as the winner of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s (SCC) 2013 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize competition. Two honorable mention honorees, Lauren Gallaspy of Salt Lake City, UT and Lee Somers of Montevallo, AL, and one merit recipient, Lauren Mabry of Philadelphia, PA, were also announced at the exhibition opening on April 25, 2014.

Swanson’s winning entry, Cypreus Lumen, 2013, is a 20 inch round wall disk made from crystalline glazed porcelain with a painted aluminum rim. The turquoise glaze looks almost liquid with the faintest ripple of movement on the surface. A patch of deep red disrupts the calm in a dynamic swirl of motion. “Processes of change, formation, and dissolution are caught in this crystalline glazed surface,” says Swanson of the piece. “A flow of molten colorants in an optically ambivalent and luminous frozen moment recalls geology as well as biology, and elicits material affinities between the body and the world around us.”

Linda Swanson Ceramics - 2013 Raphael Prize Winner

As the 2013 Raphael Prize winner, Swanson shows several other ceramic works in Transformation 9, each exploring the changing nature of matter. A site-specific installation similar to her piece Osmogenesis (recently seen at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN) was installed in SCC’s main gallery throughout the run of the exhibition. Combining the slow and steady drip of water onto a clay-covered steel surface, the piece is constantly changing. As the water burrows through the clay, the underlying metal surface is exposed in a collection of bubbling craters. Swanson describes the piece as exploring the “interdependence of organism and environment, as well as organism and organism – in which one species is created, or at least sustained, by and through another.”

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Swanson received her B.A. in Art History from University of California Santa Barbara, her B.F.A. in Ceramics from California State University, and her M.F.A. in Ceramics from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, Alfred, NY. Currently, she lives in Montreal, Canada where she is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University. Swanson’s ceramics have been exhibited in SOFA Chicago with the Lacoste Gallery, Elemental at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, and INFESTATION, a public art installation at the Parcs Canada Lachine Canal Historic Site in Montreal. In 2013, Swanson was named an Emerging Artist by NCECA, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.

An honorable mention award was given to Lauren Gallaspy for her piece, Giving Up the Ghost, 2014. The startling 16” tall sculpture combines soft, feminine lines with a mass of ceramics shards and strips. Gallaspy received her M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University and has been named a NCECA Emerging Artist. She describes her work as being “about imbalance—the vulnerability of living things— and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another.”

A second honorable mention award was presented to Lee Sommers for his work, Scape IV, 2014. Having also received his M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University, his work has been exhibited throughout the United States and China. Known for his distinctive ceramic collages, Sommers explains his process as “a coupling of fleeting notions and physical realities. Collage is a key strategy in both the physical and conceptual organization of my work. Drawing from a variety of sources, ongoing acts of sampling, collecting and cataloging, leads to a critical mass of components. Weaving a matrix of relations between these parts, I find compositional epiphanies - parallels to aesthetic experiences etched in my memory.”

Additionally, the jurors gave a merit award to Lauren Mabry for her piece, Curved Plane, 2013. The artist, a M.F.A. graduate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describes her work as “painterly, abstract, ceramic sculpture.”

Lauren Mabry Ceramics at Transformation 9

The jury for the 2013 prize was composed of Joshua Green, Executive Director of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts; Jae Won Lee, a Korean American ceramic artist and Associate Professor at Michigan State University; Alexandra Raphael, enamel artist, London, England; Catherine Raphael, metalsmith and storyteller, Pittsburgh, PA; Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions at SCC; and Janet McCall, Executive Director at SCC.

“This prize honors artists who are redefining the boundaries of their media to create work that is challenging and thought-provoking. The strength and recognition of this competition has grown over the past 17 years and continues to challenge our viewers understanding of craft today,” said McCall.

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SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC

SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez /at Cross MacKenzie Gallery

SCORES: Fujita, Cole & Lopez / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC
May 9-31, 2014

Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “SCORES” an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture and photographs by three artists whose work is based on repeating dozens or “scores” of elements to create something greater than the sum of their individual parts. Each artist’s work is full of repetitions, multiples, and variations of a seemingly simple form, built up to a greater whole, creating order out of disorder. Together, the pieces are in conversation with one another.

Michael Fujita’s ceramic hand rolled tubes are laid row upon row until a handsome vessel takes form. Glazed in blues and greens, the macaroni-like bowls evoke various visual textures, drawing upon our tactile sensibilities. This is a labor of love, patience, and detail, and it therefore comes as no surprise that the artist experienced carpal tunnel syndrome while building these works. In his previous show at our gallery, Fujita’s repeated element was individually glazed spheres the size of gumballs, each work was multi-colored and looked almost machine-made. His new work, however, differs in its monochromatic palette, and the ragged edges serve to emphasize the handmade aspect of the vessels. Stacked one by one, each tube is completely unique, and the overall effect is of an entity growing organically of its own accord.

Linda Lopez’ ceramic sculptures are also labor intensive. Like Fujita, she becomes entranced in her repetitions and creates rather comical furry shapes that are reminiscent of sea anemones. Her clay teardrops elegantly melt down along the surface and are placed layer upon layer until the entire form is covered as densely as a head of hair. Lately she has extended tendrils from the core opening up her monoliths into the surrounding space, growing outward.

John Cole’s new series of photographs called the “Full Bleed Series” at first glance seem like Washington Color School paintings, Gene Davis-like, made of multiple stripes of color. The fact that these are actually extreme close-up views of the edges of stacked magazines is a delight. By refocusing one’s eyes to take in the tiny scale of the magazine page colored edges, it simultaneously gives us a way of looking at the ceramics. His observations give us a full perspective by both zooming in and zooming out of focus. Each image is made of scores of pages, not only filling the frame of the photograph, but also continuing past the edge of the frame, implying an endlessly repeating pile of magazines.

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