Posts tagged ‘Ceramics’
Bad manners? I asked myself. The name of the work, which is part of the ASU Art Museum’s newest exhibition Bad Manners and selections from the ASU Art Museum collection, clearly struck me as more of a question than a first impression. Walking into the gallery and still too far away to read the accompanying text panel, I was bewildered. The work, a ceramic installation piece by artist Marilyn Lysohir, initially appears to be anything but “Bad Manners.”
Far from crass or revolting, as the name might imply, the installation is intricate, even delicate. The complexity of its construction is a thing of awe. At the very center of the gallery, so that everything, even the viewer, must revolve around them, sit four life-sized ceramic figures. Two men and two women are dining at an elegant table complete with tablecloth and decorative candelabrum. They lack heads but are pristinely dressed. The men wear slacks, ties and sports coats. The women are presented as elegant and proper in garments buttoning primly all the way up their necks and along their wrists.
The table itself is another wonder. Somehow not bowing under the weight, it is laden, if not overflowing, with a plethora of exquisite, glossy ceramic food. A whole roast chicken, a vibrant red berry tart, spaghetti and several elaborately decorated cakes stand out among a vast array of other dishes. Far from the sloppy connotations of “bad manners,” each individual piece is beautifully crafted. Beyond that the tender, painstaking care required to assemble such a detailed, complex installation is striking. “Bad Manners” seems like a misnomer.
However, up close and upon inspection, my first impression was proven very wrong as the distant appearance of elegance disintegrated. These aren’t mere headless figures. Looking under the table, the true extent of their inhumanity becomes apparent. The men seem ordinary, disguised by their slacks, but in the space between the women’s hemlines and fashionable pumps there is nothing but air. Then it dawns on you (or at least me): These aren’t figures at all; they are hollow, empty suits of clothing. A second inspection of the table reveals more incongruences disgusting in a scene so falsely elegant. A deviled egg sits atop an artfully decorated chocolate cake. There is a slice of pizza in the salad. Corn on the cob is haphazardly placed on a bowl of spaghetti and a hot dog lounges insultingly on the elaborate frosting of another cake. With each newly noticed unfortunate detail a nascent sense of dismay and revulsion grows. As much as you might want to look away, the conscientious care of each individual ceramic piece and the installation’s assembly draws you in. The work becomes both terrible and exquisite as you stare in fascinated horror.
Bad Manners stands, a glossy stark polemic against our increasing consumerist society. The four empty suits of clothing symbolize mindless consumption: the overloaded table critiques gluttony and excess. Through this work, Lysohir cleverly poses the fundamental question of what is really necessary in life. We undeniably look at excess with envy when we desire the glamorous lifestyles afforded to successful actors and musicians. The excess awarded with fame and fortune is alluring. How else can we explain the (unfortunate) enduring popularity and never-ending string of participants appearing on shows like the X-Factor and American Idol? Normally the best we muster is negligible guilt when we are reminded that we throw food away while people in other regions of the world live without even clean water. Bad Manners doesn’t provoke any guilt; it instills a sense of sheer repugnance at the excess it presents. It awakens a lingering sense of shame exacerbated by the initial pleasantness of the scene as we see ourselves seated around that table. The longer we look, the more hollow the suits of clothing become. They will never receive any satisfaction from the feast laid out in front of them, and no amount of food could ever fill their empty forms.
Bad Manners is a sobering experience, but it delivers its blow with an odd compassion. As much as it revolts, shocks and shames us as we recognize our own greed, these same feelings reaffirm our humanity. It is our very ability to realize and feel such dismay that defines us as more than just hollow suits of clothing. We don’t need to be empty.
ASU Art Museum intern
Images courtesy of the artist.
Bad Manners and selections from the ASU Art Museum collection is on view at the ASU Art Museum through Sept. 1. More information here.
A visitor to the ASU Art Museum sits on Brace, 2012, a new piece by Matthias Pliessnig. Photo by Tim Trumble.
A generous grant for Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking the Contemporary Craft Field has given the ASU Art Museum the means and tools to dig deeper and explore craft even further through research, travel and community outreach.Designed to fortify and advance the museum’s commitment to craft, Crafting a Continuum acknowledges the field as a noteworthy and integral part of the fine arts.
“The ultimate goal of the grant is to assess the current and extensive holdings in ceramics, fiber and woods,” curator of ceramics Peter Held said. “We want to move it forward by including younger, emerging artists working in new ways.”
The comprehensive Windgate Charitable Foundation grant, in the amount of $330,000, will be used to accomplish a two-year multifaceted project that focuses on both acquisition and artist residencies, invigorating the museum’s position in the field of craft. Along with community outreach, the museum has hired Elizabeth Kozlowski, a curatorial fellow focused on contemporary craft, and will also publish a catalogue to go along with the exhibition.
“With these residencies, for instance, the artists are playing an active role,” Peter Held said. “They’re working with our students, (and) they’re working with our community. I think that’s a really powerful aspect of the initiative.”
So far, the Windgate support has helped commission a piece from Matthias Pleissnig, a visiting artist who combines furniture-making and sculpture. As part of the initiative, Pleissnig led well- and enthusiastically attended workshops in the School of Art, and along with giving a public lecture at the museum about his work, Pleissnig delivered a piece for the museum collection (currently on display in the lobby).
Above: Matthias Pliessnig works with ASU students during his visit to campus. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.
“With the trend of contemporary artists using traditional craft materials to make fine art, disciplines are a lot more fluid than they were. The need to define the two as separate seems to have dissipated,” Held said.
Artists today are more concerned with using the appropriate materials to execute ideas rather than drawing hard lines between art and craft, and in support of this, the ASU Art Museum has an extensive history in presenting and working with artists in the craft field.
“We’re one of the few fine art museums in the country that started collecting mid-20th-century studio craft. Now it’s becoming a more prevalent trend,” Held said.
The permanent collection of ceramics at The ASU Art Museum originated in 1955, and since then, the museum has consciously built a collection of contemporary studio ceramics at a time when craft based media was considered a lesser art form. The collection of works extends over six decades and contains over 3,500 objects.
In 1990, the museum co-sponsored the exhibition, Meeting Ground: Basketry Traditions and Sculptural Forms, which studied the relationship between traditional baskets and sculptural forms and also highlighted artists’ interests in hand processes and natural materials. More recently, the museum showcased Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection in 2006, which charted the blend of ancient and modern basket making and baskets as sculptural forms. The exhibition traveled to five venues nationally.
Given one of the best turned wood collections in the late 80s/early 90s, the Jacobson Collection, the ASU Art Museum displayed the pieces internationally, and with the influential traveling exhibition and media response, turning became more established as an art form.
“We have a venerable past in contemporary craft,” Senior Curator and Associate Director Heather Lineberry said. “One of the things that is pretty unusual is that we have always shown contemporary craft within the broader contemporary art context.”
The museum is currently evaluating the purpose and quality of its collections, giving the museum the opportunity to rethink the recent history, the present and the future of contemporary craft as well as encourage interactions and connections with rising voices within the field.
The initiative’s exhibition will debut in the fall of 2013 at the ASU Art Museum and will then travel nationally to about five venues.
“As an institution, we are guided by the fact that we focus on contemporary art and that we are a university museum, and as a university art museum, we should be focusing on transdisciplinary issues,” Lineberry said. “We should be focusing on education… We should be experimenting. We should be exploring new ideas, new art forms, new approaches in the museum, and we should be as much about the process as the final product. With the Rethinking Contemporary Craft initiative, we have a real opportunity to reassess the field.”
Yesterday an event was held at the home of Sara and David Lieberman to raise awareness and support for the future Don Reitz Residency in the Arts.
On his 80th birthday, master ceramic artist and teacher Don Reitz envisioned a program designed to enhance artistic and creative experiences for students, faculty and artists nationwide. Considering himself a teacher’s teacher, Reitz wanted his legacy to be a residency program that transcends academic disciplines in a collaborative, inspirational space.
The artist was joined by 35 local patrons to learn more about ASU’s plans to bring about Don’s vision.
–Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics
My first full day in Stockholm was fast-paced, with new experiences abounding.
My first stop was to the studio of a collaborative group of nine artists, all past graduates of Konsfack, Stockholm’s design/craft school. Above, on the left is Linus Errson and right, Jakob Robertsson. They showed a Powerpoint of six past projects, including one at PS 1 and the V & A. Bright group working in a variety of media.
Next stop down the street was the Bonniers Konsthall, a contemporary museum (below).
Then off to visit two premier craft galleries: Konsthantverkarna and Blas & Knada, pictured below. Work was generally functional with a twist and, like all global craftsmen worldwide, currently geared towards the gift-giving season.
Ended the day in the beautiful Gambla Stan neighborhood and after hours of being chilly outside, stopped by to visit my fair glogg barkeeps, below:
On the subway home the graffiti caught my eye.
Tomorrow off to Gustavsberg.
Happy Yuletide greetings from the great north!
–Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics
I took the train today to Humlebaek, about 25 miles north of Copenhagen, to visit the Louisiana Museum. Was excited as they recently opened an Ai Wei Wei exhibition. Here are two photos of the primary installations with many video projects and interviews with the artist. Also a great show of Klee and the CoBrA group. And I saw the sun for the first time in three days!
Peter Held, curator of ceramics for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, is on a research trip through Scandinavia (funded by a generous grant for that purpose), and he’ll be sending us periodic updates from the road. Here’s his first, sent a few hours before he took off from New York for Denmark.
“So what do you do with a 2 hour layover in NY before leaving for Europe? As a native New Yorker you get a pastrami sandwich. Katz’s is no Carnegie Deli, no — but good enough to cross the ocean.”
And he even sent a photo of his sandwich:
We are now officially hungry. And a little bit envious.
At the end of June, the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center guided 20 patrons from across the country to help celebrate the Archie Bray Foundation’s 60th anniversary From the Center to the Edge.
During the week we visited studios (Deborah Butterfield, John Buck, Josh DeWeese and Rosie Wynkoop in Bozeman) and Richard Notkin, Sarah Jaeger and Robert Harrison in Helena. Tours of private collections, auctions, fabulous meals and glorious weather, made even more meaningful once we returned to the 117-degree blazing Arizona sun, provided for a perfect ceramic storm.
A big thanks to all our members who joined us!
–Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics, ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center
Events at Arizona State University Art Museum for April 2010:
[EDIT: The list of films to be screened on April 17 is now available on our site!]
April 10: Street Party, at Hoskin Ryan Consultants property, Indian School Rd and 2nd Ave, Phoenix. From 4 – 10 p.m., $5 at the gate or online, and kids 12 and younger are free! Proceeds benefit ASU Art Museum exhibitions and programs.
April 17: ASU Art Museum 14th Annual Short Film & Video Festival, out on the plaza behind the museum. Bring your own chairs and blankets to be comfy for a gorgeous night under the stars watching short films submitted from all over the world. A totally free event!
Arizona State University Art Museum is free and open to the public. The main museum is located at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue at 10th Street, in Tempe, Arizona. The ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center is just across the street at the northeast corner of Mill Avenue at 10th Street, and free parking for museum visitors is available directly outside in marked spaces. Please visit our web site for hours and current exhibitions and events.
See you in April!