Sprinkled among the multitude of objects that fill our Material World; ceramics whether industrially manufactured or hand crafted, from the recent or distant past, even fresh out of the kiln, collide in the present.  Continually in flux as their function and relevance shifts, ceramics objects move through time and space adjusting to present tastes, trends and values.  Artists exploring the flow between factory and studio, museum collection and discard pile, the domestic table and the pedestal bring diversity and challenge to Flow.

Meissen, the pioneer in the manufacture of European court porcelains continues to play a significant role in contemporary ceramics.  Instrumental in fostering a connection across time and space, Meissen facilitated the collaboration between their great modeler, J.J. Kaendler and Chris Antemann.  The Paradise Chandelier utilized Kaendler’s centuries old molds in combination with Antemann’s fresh romantic figures spiced with a dash of satire and feminism to create a chandelier intended to move beyond its function as a lighting fixture and into the realm of enlightening.

Working on the Meissen factory floor, Arlene Shechet viewed the discards, overspills and rejected bits of porcelain as fodder for her dynamic porcelain assemblages.  Unbound by function or traditional notions of craft, Shechet involved the factory in assisting her in a subversion and re-imagining of the potential of their porcelain as material and object, creating works of delicate beauty with unexpected twists of irony questioning taste and the role of precious ceramics in our throw away culture.

Working with found ceramics manufactured for the middle class, Billie Theide takes the conversation about ceramics into the realm of the decorative and the domestic.  Her three humble plates from the Guise series, transport familiar, if passé ceramic objects from grandma’s cupboards into an alien, even “undeserved” museum setting.   Her clever and amusing fabric embellishments force their viewer to consider the role of often overlooked, even camouflaged ceramic objects in domestic interiors as worthy of attention and consideration.

Individual objects in Swarm by Tsehai Johnson originated from a humble slip cast “restaurant” cup.  Transforming each pliable clay cup with handbuilt drips, Johnson arranges her installed flock to respond and flow within its environment in fanciful, seeming haphazard fashion that references human patterns associated with food, drink and community highlighting the function of ceramic as a catalyst for conversation and commune in our Material World.

Investigating labor, collaboration and skill in the global ceramics community; both Jae Won Lee and Rain Harris traveled to Jingdezhen, China to research the production of elaborate decorative ceramic florals.  Long fascinated by questions of beauty and taste, Rain Harris allowed her decorative, resin transformed “cheap” plastic and silk flowers purchased from the Dollar Store to completely overwhelm their “precious” porcelain structure creating Dribble, a glowing object of great beauty and mystery that gives pause as to the intersection and prestige of material, process and product in current ceramic practice.

Living in the space between East and West; Korean born, Jae Won Lee presents Seize the Flower in the Mirror, an elegant ceramic still-life in an antique European style cabinet, emblematic of the fluid connections between cultures as artists travel and move across the globe following opportunity and inspiration.  This black abstraction hints at the dark side of not truly belonging or being understood by either culture, giving the work a poignancy and mystery that is at once beautiful and fragile, but melancholy and heartbreaking.

 

Categories: Conference, Exhibitions, Featured, Milwaukee

Posted by Linda Ganstrom, Exhibitions Director

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