BY BARBARA GALAZZO
Rockland Center for the Arts [RoCA] looks at its legacy of the past with Henry Varnum Poor who was a huge part of the RoCA in its formative years. Poor was a leader in the Contemporary world of ceramics after World War II when experimentation and self expression were groundbreaking in ceramics. Poor was a new generation of ceramists that was influential and helped pave the transformation of the vessel using the medium in spontaneous and intuitively expressive ways.
In the beginning of the 20th century the production of ceramics was dominated by large factories of skilled craftsmen to make utilitarian objects. Updated forms, free to diverge from traditional pottery created entirely new non-utilitarian forms. In recent years, ceramics have been reborn firmly in an art context, bridging the gap between crafts and sculpture. These artists feel liberated from creating the norm of useful objects.
In this same spirit, RoCA presents In Form: Contemporary Sculptural Ceramics featuring Contemporary Artists of the 21st Century who are continuing to experiment with forms, surface and structure. Artists include: Jocelyn Armstrong, Lisa Knaus, Kirsten Lyon, Jennifer McCurdy, Leigh Taylor Mickelson, Sana Musasama, Kelly Jean Ohl, Jeff Pender, Max Seinfeld, and Janine Sopp.
The power of Sana Musasama’s work rises from her iconic forms. Her expressive clay works are not only free from the utilitarian form but they are a reaction to free us from concepts and judgments within bondage boundaries. Musasama is inspired by social issues and harsh or abusive conditions. Her sculptures are steeped in a deep compassion for those afflicted. Her “Maple Tree Series” refers to the abolitionists in the 19th century and the hopes that the Maple Syrup industry would help end slavery. “The Unspeakable” series deals with the circumcision of women in the world, denied the free expression of their own bodies. She sees her art as a personal instrument of change and proves that an artist can change lives for the better, while still creating beauty.
Jennifer McCurdy pays attention only to the form by giving homage to the organisms and patterns found in her natural environment of Martha’s Vineyard. Working in porcelain she pushes the boundaries of her materials to see how thin they can be or how much she can cut away and still maintain the structural integrity. She creates a dance of movement in her work, giving the hard surface of her ceramic material the illusion of being delicate.
Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong creates sculptures with a fresh sophistication and modern aesthetic that link fine art with craft. She has developed a signature technique of building black and white porcelain ceramic sculptures to look delicately stitched together.
Leigh Taylor Mickelson’s organic ceramic sculptures explore the different components of self, sexuality and family, and how these components relate and conflict with one another. Mickelson uses forms from nature, especially those found in plant life, as a means of expression. The elements of natural forms act as a metaphor for the spiritual, emotional and physical extremes that exist within us, our love relationships and family units.
“In Form” takes a look at how contemporary ceramic forms have evolved since its freedom from function after World War II. Free to diverge from traditional pottery these ceramists use humor, abstraction, social and political commentary as well as architectural forms. The exhibit will be on view October 9 through November 30, 2016 with an opening reception, Oct. 9, 1 – 4 p.m. Rockland Center for the Arts is located at 27 S. Greenbush Rd., West Nyack, NY. Regular hours are: Mon-Fri 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sat and Sun 1-4 p.m. For more information visit www.rocklandartcenter.org or call 845-358-0877.
Barbara Galazzo is the Artistic Director’s Assistant at RoCA