Concepts In Clay: Artists of Color, an online exhibition presented by Clay Art Center
October 26 – December 31, 2020
“Artists, as TS Elliott said, only need freedom to create and all else is just subject matter. To play on words, they are making art as if the world mattered (Gablik) and there is much that matters. I have suggested of late that this present time will retroactively be called the Social Justice period. And yet artists must make work about the muse they are chasing at any given time from purely aesthetically inspired questions to social statements inspired by contemporary issues. The artists gathered here are no different and their work ranges from the functional to the fine and everything in between.
What then makes this Black Art? It may not be Black Art in the sense that the themes narrate aspects of the Black experience as seen in Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Banjo Lesson, Elizabeth Catlett’s Sharecropper, or Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times. Indeed, what makes Dave the potter’s work significant as Black expression is that he was Black in America, a slave in America. Achievement out of oppressive states of existence should be amplified and celebrated even when the subject matter is not the very oppression from which it emerged.” – Paul Briggs
Featuring works by celebrated Black ceramic artists from across the US, Concepts In Clay brings together a collective voice that speaks about a variety of themes and processes as part of the continuum of Artists of Color working in clay in the US today. Clay is the vehicle that amplifies these voices, and within this collection, these artists not only share their work with us, but their thoughts on what present-day America means to each of them. As we move forward in turbulent and uncertain times in our society at large, this exhibition marks a place in time in the contemporary clay artist field.
The artists selected here make clay works that are wide ranging in the treatments of surfaces, processes, forms, materials and subject matter. This collection also investigates a variety of themes unique to the Black experience in America, from human relationships and interactions, identity and image of self, social justice and activism, to the outward expression of inner experiences.
With an exhibition statement by Paul Briggs, these artists also share their words with us to enhance the experience of visiting an exhibition online, another benchmark in our times.
Photos courtesy of the artists / Clay Art Center