Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gallery Visits in Georgetown

Susan and I took a day off from the studio to take a jaunt to Georgetown to visit some galleries and meet my friend and colleague, Tamara Laird for lunch.
We were gifted with a gorgeous bright and sunny day, with a brisk spring breeze, perfect for Georgetown, which is best explored on foot.

Arriving early, we visited Maureen Littleton Gallery, which is one of the most prominent contemporary glass galleries in the US and is tucked away in a quiet townhouse. Our friend and Washington Glass Studio neighbor, Michael Janis ,is represented by Maureen Littleton and it was lovely to see his luminously layered works on diplay.

We then hiked to Cross Mackenzie, the only gallery in the DC area devoted exclusively to ceramics. The gallery is small but meticulously curated by the owner, Rebecca Cross, and features works by leading contemporary ceramicists. We were there to see Tamara's solo show of monumental ceramic forms:

Left to right: Elizabeth Kendall, Rebecca Cross and Tamara Laird

Tamara Laird with one of her sculptures

For our first exhibition of the year 2011, Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Paisley Monuments, the monumental new ceramic sculpture by D.C. artist, Tamara Laird. An accomplished professional artist,RISD grad, and ceramics professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Laird draws on her extensive world travels to inform her art.
While still a young ceramic student, she traveled to England to meet the world famous Bernard Leach and other British ceramists. Then in 1982, while visiting Zaire, Laird developed a number of illustrated training guides for use by the Peace Corps. In 1984 she moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked at the National Museums of Kenya on a project funded by the United Nations and she also taught art at the Kenyatta University. Her next destination was Bangkok, Thailand with her family, where she carried out extensive research in local ceramics including individual artists, traditional village production, and full-scale industrial ceramics factories. She was invited to participate in an educational tour for traditional northeastern Thai ceramics, sponsored by the Thai government. She has also traveled to Mexico where she participated in a tour of ceramic factories that integrate traditional and contemporary industrial majolica production. Majolica was her focus when in Deruta Italy at the Grazia Majolica Artistiche Artigianali factory, as well. It is not surprising that she currently teaches majolica techniques for a annual summer study abroad program in Amalfi Italy.
Laird is interested in finding the connection between local culture and artistic development. Her current work is based on the paisley motif, a universally recognizable pattern that has been used for thousands of years. The form makes reference to botanical imagery, water, fruit, and fecundity. Usually applied to textiles, the shape is transformed into an elegant yet whimsical and expressive three-dimensional form in Laird's hands – resembling a plant shoot. Last year her work was included in the show Flora: Growing Inspirations at the U.S. Botanical Gardens where they were placed outdoors in the Conservatory Terrace at the foot of the Capitol. The artist makes the sculptures in high-fire stoneware with various glazed surfaces from flat black to reflective metallic lusters demonstrating the material possibilities inherent in clay, a material essential to human development as she discovered first hand all over the world. I have paired this essential element with a universal symbol to create a monument to ornament, says Laird.

I was in a show at the US Botanical Gardens with Tamara last year. The US Botanical Gardens' designers and gardening teams designed and built an outdoor garden room around her works and I think to really appreciate the lyrical beauty of these you must see them nestled in a green garden, with the sunlight glinting off of her sumptuous bronze glazes.

After that we walked to Baked and Wired, which not only has the most elegant display system, but has the most delicious, melt in your mouth, transform you back to the bestest ever, shiniest birthday party you ever had as a child...yummm!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unloaded the test kiln this morning and I'm so pleased at how the butterflies turned out!

I am using a new clay for me, an ultra white, very translucent porcelain called Frost. You can see the ethereal qualities of this clay best when back lit. I am now thinking of clustering hundreds of them on a lit globe pendant light...hmmmmm.....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I have several exciting projects and exhibitions coming up for 2011 and have been busy in the studio experimenting and making work.

One of the projects is an installation of over a thousand porcelain butterflies. I've been experimenting with different ways to make the butterflies- press molds, slipcasting and cutters. Here are some tinies I made using a cutter and very thin slabs of a white porcelain.

Each one is hand shaped to convey movement, refined with a knife once dry and then loaded into the test kiln. The container is full of broken ones- they are incredibly delicate while in greenware state.

Fingers crossed for opening the kiln tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Susan, Jessica ( my talented studio mate) and I all took a quick trip to Terrapin Traders today. Terrapin Traders  is the surplus warehouse for the University of Maryland and just a quick 20 minutes away from the studio.
Filled with dusty stacks of old desks, dented file cabinets and piles of obsolete lab equipment, it is definitely a hit or miss type place. I was in search of an old fashioned overhead projector for an upcoming project and Susan and Jessica tagged along for fun.
We found a sturdy 3M overhead projector right away, plugged it in and voila!

 Nothing else caught our eye until on the way out, Jessica's keen eye found a cardboard box high on a shelf- full of these fabulous brass tubes. The tag said they were " Ice Tube Shields", conjuring up wonderful images of a mysterious laboratory hidden in the depths of the science building.
We bought the entire box- I love treasure hunting!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome to the Daily Art Muse!

Today we had our first meeting with Susan Lomuto, the the Daily Art Muse. Susan is the creative force behind this must see website and blog devoted to contemporary fine craft.
If you haven't read it yet, click on the link above now and go check it out. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Isn't that the most glorious visual feast? I have always loved her blog and was ever so delighted when she found my work online and featured it a year or so ago. ( Click here )
Susan has embarked on a grand adventure for the new year:

"It’s time to get out of the house and hit the road. After bringing you the results of the hard work, dedication and commitment of more than 2,000 artists, who better than me to take you deeper into the life of the working artist? I want to show you their daily rhythm, the daily grind, the solitude, the camaraderie, the highs, the lows.
To do that, I’m getting my hands dirty working as an apprentice for established and emerging artists across the country. I’m doing their scut work, sweeping floors and learning – about art, about life as an artist, even about life in general – as I gather material to write in depth about the working artist’s life. A lot of it will appear right here on Daily Art Muse – a multimedia experience complete with pictures, video and text."

And lucky us, she is spending six weeks with us in the Gateway Arts District, working with seven artists. She will be spending time with us at Flux as well as time with the The Washington Glass SchoolAni Kasten and Margaret Boozer at Red Dirt Studios.

Today we had our first meeting all together to talk about the schedule and to discuss the individual projects that Susan might be interested in assisting us with over the next six weeks. It was a great meeting- lively and fun, we all can't wait to get started!

If you would like to help Susan with this project she is accepting donations via a BUTTON on her website and also awarding some really great donor rewards, to which we will be adding some art  pieces in the near future!