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From top: Albin Brunovsky, Lady with a Hat II (Mirror), 1981, Intaglio (etching and mezzotint), Gift of J. Scott Patnode in Memory of Wally and Irene Patnode. Ryan Mitchell, Excavator’s Daughter, 2005. Wood fired stoneware and porcelain. Campus Art Award; Crista Ann Ames, Four Years with a Silver-Tongued Devil, 2013. Hand-built ceramic. Museum Purchase from UMECA Juried Exhibition;Trey Hill, Just a Little Taste, 2009. Hand-built earthenware. Gift of Jon and Anne Bertsche.
The exhibition surveys the Permanent Collection from the beginning of the American ceramics movement all the way up to the present moment, examining formal and thematic developments since its onset in the mid-1950s. Beginning with collaborations by Peter and Henry Meloy and early works by Peter Voulkos and Branson Stevenson, the show highlights work that broke with clay’s decorative and utilitarian heritage to usher in what we now know as contemporary ceramics.
In the subsequent decades, artists like Frances Senska, Tony Hepburn, and Ken Little turned toward a sculptural understanding of clay, guided more by the physical properties of the medium than principles of quality manufacture. These artists laid the groundwork for the more whimsical work produced by artists in the 1980s, such as Tom Rippon and Douglas Baldwin. Examples of their work appear alongside ceramics by Josh DeWeese, David Shaner, and Kurt Weiser. Some of the most daring advances in artistic sensibility and glazing and firing techniques were made in this era, and the works on view will elate both ceramics enthusiasts and newcomers to the clay medium.
More contemporary trends like the emergence of personal narrative and mythology will be on view in works by artists defining the field today, including current UM ceramics faculty Trey Hill and Beth Lo, as well as recent graduates Crista Ann Ames, Megan Bogonovich, Alex Kraft, Ryan Mitchell, and Sue Tirrell.
This exhibition is co-curated by UM Professor of Ceramics Julia Galloway and MMAC Curator of Art Jeremy Canwell.
This exhibition will present a selection of work by Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Slovenian artists, offering an extraordinary glimpse into creativity in the shadow of Soviet communism. From Khrushchev’s cultural “Thaw” to the Prague Spring, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath, Eastern European artists used the printed form to recover their national traditions and critique the totalitarian culture that had eclipsed them. Examples from the accompanying research archive, consisting of 59 rare art books, corresponding monographs, and exhibition catalogues will also be on view.