Kindred Objects: Ceramics & Glass from the Western Reserve
November 4 @ 5:30 pm - December 18 @ 4:00 pm
In-Person Opening Reception: Thursday, November 4th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No registration necessary. Masks required.
Virtual Program: Wednesday November 17th, 7:00 – 8:00pm on Zoom. Susie J. Silbert, Curator of Postwar & Contemporary Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass. Registration link coming soon!
There’s something fundamentally moving about glass and ceramics. Familiar, yet surprising, the mediums form a visceral connection between the viewer and the artist, providing a powerful pathway to transmit ideas through shared tactile experience.
This November, the Artists Archives welcomes Kindred Objects: Ceramics & Glass from the Western Reserve, a regional group exhibition curated by Kent State University faculty Davin K. Ebanks and Peter Christian Johnson. The show features over 20 Ohio creators including representative works from established artists like Brinsley Tyrrell, Todd Leech, Eva Kwong, Marc Petrovic, and Kari Russell-Pool, as well as that of emerging and aspiring artists whose work is lesser known.
For Ebanks and Johnson, the pairing of the media was a natural choice. “Glass is historically linked to ceramics,” they explain. “The technology for the latter is necessary to produce the former. This kinship formed the basis for the genesis of this show… Moreover, both materials seem to command a unique loyalty from their practitioners.” Both glass and ceramics also have strong historical ties to Northeast Ohio. “It must be mentioned that the American Studio Glass Movement was born in the Western Reserve, in Toledo, Ohio, nearly 60 years ago…The Western Reserve is now home to 3 significant glass programs: Bowling Green State University, Cleveland Institute of Art and Kent State University, all of which are represented in this show.”
While the work was not chosen for any thematic or formal similarity, certain commonalities emerged including the timely theme of adaptation. “The Coronavirus Pandemic has created challenges for all artists,” Ebanks muses, “but even more so for those who depend on specialized equipment and studios to make their work. Many of the artists here rose to that challenge, adapting their practice when going to their studio was an impossibility.” Glass artist Katie Burkett, for example, began incorporating textiles into her work during quarantine when other materials became scarce at local craft stores. Both Alicia Telzerow’s process and subject matter seemed altered by the pandemic. Switching to cast resin when she no longer had access to kilns or hot glass, Telzerow’s created Connectivity Issues, a wearable mask which features human ears in the place of respirator cartridges – a play “on the filtration of information rather than air,” and an ominous nod to the fragile safety of the pandemic.
Another commonality in the show is artists’ use of personal experience to address universal themes. Brian Sarama, for instance, sculpts vibrant, ceramic towers of gooey snacks to confront his own struggles with body image while drawing parallels “to the larger paradigm of food culture and consumerism.” Glass artist Sommer Bonfiglio explores the sexualization of women and girls by recreating the familiar iconography of the ballet. Bonfiglio describes, “As an ex-dancer, my work is influenced by the backstage of the Paris Opera house. In the 1800’s, the backstage was known as le foyer de la danse. It served as a meeting point between dancers and wealthy male subscribers known as the abonnés, who sexually exploited the dancers. I transform objects related to dance that have not yet been influenced by the male gaze into sexual objects which serve as relics.”
Perhaps most of all, “the works in Kindred Objects highlight how material exploration can not only reinforce concept but be the locus of the work itself.” This can be seen in Timothy Stover’s exquisite cast and laminated glass sculptures which dive deep into the refractive qualities of the medium, or in Marc Petrovic’s Murrini tablets, which form the foundation for his hot-sculpted bird of prey. In both cases, the process becomes part of the concept. Todd Leech’s lusciously textured ceramic surfaces and Gabriel John Poucher’s swirling, deconstructed forms function much the same way. “Materiality is a major driving force for artists of both mediums, and no wonder,” Johnson marvels, “walking through this exhibition is a showcase of seductive surfaces, colors and forms, all created from two humble materials that started as sand.”
An in-person opening reception will be held on Thursday, November 4th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No reservations are required but masks are mandatory while inside the gallery.
On Wednesday, November 17th join Susie J. Silbert, Curator of Postwar & Contemporary Glass from The Corning Museum of Glass for a virtual program which highlights current innovation in the medium. Registration link coming soon!
Kindred Object Exhibiting Artists: Sommer Bonfiglio, Katie Burkett, Kristin Cliffel, Stephanie Craig, Alli Hoag, Benjamin Johnson, Brent Kee Young, Eva Kwong, Benjamin Lambert, Jennifer Leach, Andrea Leblond, Todd Leech, Jennifer Masley, Zachary Miller, Marc Petrovic, Gabriel John Poucher, Kari Russell-Pool, Brian Sarama, Timothy Stover, Michelle Summers, Alicia Telzerow, Brinsley Tyrrell.