Monday, March 10, 2008

"Line and Color" - redefining the painted surface

MudFire Gallery's exhibition Line and Color asks what happens when drawing and painting departs from a two dimensional canvas format into the third dimension, etched permanently on functional and sculptural ceramics. The ten artists included in Line and Color - Annette Gates, Cara Gilbert, Courtney Martin, Courtney Murphy, Diana Fayt, Jay Jensen, Julia Galloway, Kelly Sullivan, and Liz Zlot Summerfield - stand out in the field of studio ceramics with their mastery of this exhibit's namesake formal design elements. By redefining the painted surface, these artists create fine art located at the intersection of painting, sculpture, and utility.

Line and Color is on view at MudFire Gallery April 5 - May 3, 2008. The opening night reception will be held from 5-9 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2008.

Each of these artists speaks with a unique color sensibility and character of line to tell a different tale, resulting in an exhibit richly informed by the sprawling aggregate of their experiences. As a whole, the group tends toward a mark-making minimalism and intermittent blocks of vibrant color, leaving space for the form itself to add to the narrative.

Courtney Martin's life in the woods of western North Carolina is reflected in soothing greens and browns and the soft flowing lines of her daily landscape. Diana Fayt's San Francisco studio inspires cool deco colors, jagged city lines, a bold sparseness, and bits of floral and insect motifs. Kelly Sullivan's background in printmaking reflects consistency and precision of line, as well as intentional subtle variations between each edition. For Julia Galloway, color has a semiotic role of triggering associations with other things - nostalgia for nature in an urban cityscape. Liz Zlot Summerfield's diminuitive focus yields small treasures with layers of texture and playful alternation between matte and reflective surfaces.

The goal of the ceramic artist is to create a compelling surface that reinforces and draws from the form, without simply covering it. The process begins with three dimensional design with an eye toward eventual embellishments. The canvas's creation itself presents not only aesthetic but technical decisions. Mineral oxides, glass formers, fluxes, and refractory materials are blended to achieve the desired effect. Like the master painters of old, the artist must also source and process materials to craft their pigments - stains, glazes, terra sigillatta, lusters, overglaze, and other studio arcana. At the end the work is ready for a magical transformation as the intense heat of the kiln plays its own tricks and wizardry, boldy claiming for itself the rights to the final appearance.

To paint on clay is to be equal parts alchemist, technician, gambler, and artist. The artists selected for this exhibition collectively express the stunning diversity and vitality that clay is capable of as canvas.

The Line and Color exhibition will be posted on-line at
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