A hard Swath to mow: University of Arkansas Ceramics Faculty
February 3, 2017 - April 15, 2017
There’s a spot just at the edge of the field, where the manicured and predictable meets the unruly. Here, things are a little less certain—problems arise more readily, and one misstep could leave you stranded in the woods. The artists in this exhibition, members of the ceramics faculty at University of Arkansas, represent a group of practitioners eager to seek the more difficult terrain.
Through vacillating positions, each artist approaches the field with their own state of questions, seeking to re-fertilize the soil, providing views into distant windows of uncertainty.
Featuring work by Jeannie Hulen, Benjamin Cirgin, Linda Lopez, Mathew McConnell, and Adam Posnak.
Hulen's work circumvents overburdened themes such as environmentalism, in favor of a non-linear, fantastical position. She calls attention to less evident aspects of the relationships between people and the natural world, including intellectual, psychological, and numinous facets of this symbiosis. Her conceptual focus, is the element of thinking that many things can only be understood visually, or experienced physically. Wanting to tap into this transformational personal realization, this transitional series of installations is titled “The Gibberish Series,” as an exemplified idea of material voice, particularly clay. At times, the hazy process of uncovering and deciphering information can be more enlightening of the human condition than clearly articulated data.
Cirgin's primary purpose is to generate questions rather than taking a position that provides answers. With this approach he moves through the world vacillating between his skepticism of human intention, and being captivated by the intricate forming processes found in consumer driven systems of objects. Through constant negotiations within the urban setting and the people that inhabit those places, he constructs unlikely sculptures, creates unconventional functional pottery, and arranges installations that disrupt the expected commodity object and the spaces they inhabit.
Lopez's works explore the persistent presence of the absent. These observations of indefinable moments reflect not the beginning or the end of a relationship, but the abstracted instance of connectivity. These pieces search for the unseen thread that connects people and things that once shared an intangible moment. In this realm, logic is lost, objects are personified, perception is ever-changing, and things become their true selves.
McConnell’s work examines the space between original and duplicate through an appropriative practice that borders on the plagiaristic. More than simply copying the work of other artists, McConnell actively seeks, through calculated strategies of re-making, to demonstrate that artworks can simultaneously represent both the futility of invention and the inevitability of invention.
Posnak’s work is intimately bound to the material culture and religious traditions of West Africa and the African Diaspora of North and South America and the Caribbean. He has worked extensively with practitioners of West African and African Diaspora religious traditions from Cuba, Brazil, and West Africa, in the U.S. and abroad, to make pottery vessels for religious practice in traditions such as Vodun, Orisa-Ifa, Candomble, Palo Mayombe, and Santeria/Lucumi, as well as pottery and installation inspired by these practices.