One of the first art mediums used by children is clay — whether is comes in neon colors or is dug out of the yard.
While the new exhibit features the same medium, it has much different results in the hands of skilled artists. Visitors can see the incredible shapes, textures and dynamic energy that can be achieved in clay at the Davis Art Center’s “Eight from ACGA,” a new exhibit opening April 27.
The exhibit, which runs through May 25, features ceramic sculptures by eight artists from the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California. Admission is free.
An opening reception is planned for 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, April 27. A second reception will be held during the Second Friday ArtAbout, 7 to 9 p.m., on May 11.
The show runs in conjunction with the 23rd Annual California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art in Davis, the weekend of April 27-29.
Visitors to the exhibit, in DAC’s Tsao Gallery, will see the versatility of clay as an artistic medium, as demonstrated by nationally recognized ceramicists. This year’s participating artists are: Michele Collier of Oakland; Bill Geisinger, Cupertino; Amy Halko, Geyersville; Bill Heiderich, Hollister; Lee Middleman, Portola Valley; Bob Pool, Berkeley; Sara Post, Davis; and Carol Wedemeyer, San Francisco.
Each artist’s unique approach to working with clay, and their thoughtful, passionate and kinetic relationship with the medium, is evident in their resulting pieces.
“There’s a huge diversity of style that this group is representing in the show,” said this year’s juror Tom Decker, a ceramics teacher at Sacramento State and City College of San Francisco. “There’s everything from figurative sculpture to functional pottery; there’s wall-mounted work; there’s work that’s very large, very small; high-fire, low-fire; there’s work that’s very earthy looking and there’s work that’s very slick and colorful. It’s all really, really well done.”
Take, for example, Middleman’s use of surface textures to give dynamic energy to classic forms of vases and vessels. Or Halko’s hand-drawn geometric patterns, which lend her plateware charm and personality that feels both organic and conceptual.
Meanwhile, Pool’s affinity for Asian and African pottery and textiles is clear in his colorful bowls, platters, vases and covered jars. Wedemeyer uses unexpected shapes to evoke movement and bring to life her teapots, cups and pitchers.
Ceramic artists connect with their material in such a tactile, direct way that the result, Decker said, is a “telegraphic” delivery of the concept to the audience.
“If you can handle the clay technically, which takes years and years of experience and a mastery of the material, pretty much anything that you want to express comes directly through that material,” said Decker, who does large sculptural work and functional pottery. “I believe the clay carries the spirit that you put into it. Your desire as an artist comes through the material and to the audience.”
For Collier, whose figures look literally born out of clay, working non-traditionally “preserves the spontaneity of form that encourages the unexpected.” Her relationship with the medium develops into a hard-won understanding between the artist and her material.
“I tear away large swaths only to add them back again as I keep rolling,” Collier writes in her artist’s statement. “When the slab has taken on a certain energy, I begin construction. As I stretch and compress the clay, it is as though it has come to life. … After much wrestling, the clay and I come to an agreement.”