Seize the Clay – A Survey of Ceramic Educator Works to Open Nov. 2nd
SEIZE THE CLAY
A Survey of Ceramic Educator Work
Curated by Brenau University Ceramics Professor, Huy Chu
Seize the Clay, which opens November 2nd at 5:30 PM in Brenau University’s Sellars Gallery, is an immersive survey of ceramic art that celebrates the exceptional works crafted by passionate Art Educators hailing from the Southeastern region. These dedicated individuals are on a journey to unlock the boundless potential of the versatile clay medium, channeling its power to inspire, advance, and educate.
This compelling collective showcase not only celebrates the limitless versatility of clay but also brings to light the diverse techniques employed in shaping this fundamental material. Each artist adeptly wields an array of skills, including hand-building and wheel throwing, often interweaving clay with discovered materials, resulting in a seamless blend of creativity melding natural and man-made elements.
The artworks on display encompass a diverse range of glazing and firing techniques, spanning from the delicate intricacies of raku firing to the intense rawness of salt kiln firing. These artist educators embark on bold experiments with porcelain, high fire stoneware and a variety of glazes, resulting in the creation of a vibrant tapestry of textures and a rich spectrum of colors. Notably, some artists merge ceramic materials with found objects, as exemplified by the innovative work of Mike Bowen, a Sculpture Professor at Morehead State University. Bowen, residing in Morehead, Kentucky, deftly blends ceramics, wood, mixed media, and found objects, accentuating the juxtaposition between industrial and organic elements.
Among the featured artists, Alex Kraft, a ceramics professor at the University of North Georgia, constructs intricate tableaus that interlace layers of memories and sensory reflections, transcending specific details and meanings. Her work gracefully straddles the line between abstraction and semi-abstract realism, often adorned with recognizable symbols and “nouns,” yet maintaining a narrative ambiguity that beckons interpretation.
Many works within the exhibition explore the human figure as the central subject. Artists like Diana Farfán, originally from Bogotá, Colombia and now residing in Greenville, South Carolina, prominently feature the figure in her work.
Farfán, who also serves as an adjunct professor at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, creates sculptures that exude childlike whimsy while simultaneously sparking contemplation about politics and the environment.
In addition to her ceramic practice, Farfán is an active participant in local Latino cultural organizations and an advocate for environmental causes.
Angel Estrella, a professor at the University of North Georgia, is another educator who skillfully incorporates the human figure into her creations. Estrella explores the concept of human vulnerability, aiming to elicit empathy in viewers while emphasizing the materiality of the human body as a means to forge connections with others. Her art takes a unique approach by utilizing fragmentation, crafting headless and armless figures to remove identity and encourage viewers to contemplate their own embodiment.
Jennifer Graff, an artist based in Athens, Georgia and a professor at the University of North Georgia, delves into both functional and figurative concepts in clay. Her functional pottery pieces narrate a myriad of interactions between characters, with a humorous yet thought-provoking approach that confronts some of the less flattering aspects of human nature.
The Sculptures of South Carolina artist Renee Rouillier predominantly center on the profound environmental transformations
taking place and the adverse consequences they inflict on the Earth and its wildlife. Much of this upheaval results from human apathy and negligence. This truth was starkly underscored during the initial year of the pandemic when mandatory isolation was enforced. During this period, wildlife reveled in boundless freedom, serving as a vivid reminder that animals can not only endure, but also thrive in the absence of human presence, a balance not reciprocated by humanity.
This captivating exhibition also spotlights the works of several other accomplished artists such as Dr. Patricia Burd, Jessica Bowden, Allison Broom, Allen Chen, Huy Chu, Amy Henke, Leslie Hinton, Lester Martin, Veronica Martin, Lyndrid Patterson, Mary Jane Taylor, Ben Trusdale, Michael Valley, Josh Vincent, Erica Watson and Miki Waldrop, each bringing their unique perspective and creativity to the world of ceramics.