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  • Writer's pictureShara Mercado Poole

Concurrent/Conventions: A Spectrum of Contemporary Ceramics

Lisa Clague, Monkfoolery (detail)

California State University, Sacramento currently has a wonderfully whimsical and diverse ceramics exhibition installed in the University Library Gallery. With 18 artists participating from across the United States, this exhibit showcases the diversity of ceramic as a medium for both traditional pottery as well as non-functional sculpture. The wide array of approaches to manipulating clay and possibilities of finishes combined with the hand of the artist, truly offers a reaffirmation of ceramics place in the fine art world.

"It is a style and way of making that encompasses a multicultural modernism that speaks to the history of the object while simultaneously placing it at the forefront of contemporary ceramics." -HP Bloomer IV, Conconrrent/Conventions Curatorial Statement

For me, the standout pieces of the show were the figurative works by artists: Lisa Clague, Alessandro Gallo, and Kensuke Yamada. All three of these artists walk a fine line between realism and abstraction, between whimsy and grotesque, between past traditions and contemporary twists on an ancient medium.

Lisa Clague's delicately white work (below) recalls past traditions and many an art history lesson. Her wall-mounted piece, Monkfoolery, looks like it may have recently emerged from a lazy afternoon in Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. While Tied and Bound, conjures thoughts of fragile Greco-Roman ruins, come to life after a millennia long slumber.

Lisa Clague, Monkfoolery

clay, lusters, aluminum

Lisa Clague, Tied and Bound

clay, oxides

Kensuke Yamada, Diver


Other works, such as those by Kensuke Yamada (above) and Alessandro Gallo (below) display a more contemporary portrait of American life and culture. Yamada's Diver, while not without humor, seems to me to be the portrait of a rather dejected and dismal child. While Gallo's works (below) also showcase mundane daily acts, they are done with such a level of nonchalance that the superimposed heads of animals aren't even the primary humorous element. The real humor seems to be in the level of realism and the attention to detail depicted- note the faded tattoo of a sun on the ankle of the figure in Eagle Pose.

Alessandro Gallo, Monkey Business

low fire ceramic with stains

Alessandro Gallo, Eagle Pose

low fire ceramic with stains

Concurrent/Conventions will be in the University Library gallery at Sac State from February 1st until May 18th 2018. For more information, including the full curatorial statement, visit the University Library Gallery website.


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