InCiteful Clay / Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, USA
April 4 - June 29, 2014
The Arkansas Arts Center, the state’s leader in international, visual and performing arts, presents the exhibition, InCiteful Clay, on view April 4 - June 29, in the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery.
“This exhibition of brilliantly expressive ceramics offers extraordinary insight into the artists’ creative imaginations,” said Arkansas Arts Center chief curator and curator of contemporary craft Brian Lang. “Each work in the exhibition tells a unique and compelling narrative and illustrates the diversity and limitless potential of the clay medium.”
Artists have long used their creations as powerful vehicles to confront current and major societal issues, moving beyond paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs to installations and electronic media over the last century. Social concern has also become an area of increasing interest in contemporary craft.
For more than fifty years, the Arkansas Arts Center has been a leader in collecting and exhibiting contemporary craft. InCiteful Clay continues this tradition and is a follow-up to the landmark exhibition, Confrontational Clay: The Artist as Social Critic, which was also presented by the Arkansas Arts Center in 2000. This national travelling exhibition offers an unparalleled overview of an emergent movement in contemporary ceramics dedicated to social commentary.
Incorporating a broad range of work, InCiteful Clay includes approximately 35 ceramic sculptures by artists who utilize a millennia-old medium to create provocative critiques of contemporary social, political, cultural and environmental issues. The exhibition is organized around five themes: war and politics; the social and human condition; gender issues; environmental concerns; and popular and material culture. The artists have conveyed their messages in styles that are aggressive, violent, disturbing, irreverent, and at times, humorous, but all the while ever passionate. They rely on figurative imagery, narrative content, and a range of expressive avenues, including caricature, parody, satire, obscenity, erotica and the grotesque.
Featured artists in the exhibition include: Toby Buonagurio, Nuala Creed, Michelle Erickson, Richard Notkin, Anne Potter, Richard Shaw, Akio Takamori, Ehren Tool, Patti Warashina and Paula Winokur, among others. Among the specific topics they address are: the social consequences of war, the impact of declining moral values on children, capital punishment, consumerism and global warming.
Traditionally, ceramics have served functional and decorative purposes and have been associated with positive experiences. Visitors to this exhibition will come away with a new appreciation for the expressive capabilities of clay media to convey substantive content and to deliver the powerful critiques more routinely seen in painting and sculpture.
InCiteful Clay is organized and circulated by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, with the Arkansas Arts Council and The National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is curated by Judith S. Schwartz, Ph.D., an internationally recognized specialist in contemporary ceramics. A professor and director of craft media in the Department of Art and Art Professions, New York University (New York, New York), Schwartz recently published a groundbreaking study of this movement within ceramic art, Confrontational Ceramics: The Artist as Social Critic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).
I went to this exhibit with my cousin and I was blown away by the variety and beauty of the ceramic work