Two new site-specific pieces by Courtney Mattison (previously) position ceramic sculptures of corals, sponges, and anemones in a swirling cluster of ocean diversity. Titled “Revolve” and “Our Changing Seas VII,” the wall reliefs are the latest additions to the Los Angeles-based artist’s body of work, which advocates for ecological preservation by highlighting the beauty and fragile nature of marine invertebrates.
In both installations, Mattison contrasts the vibrant, plump tentacles of healthy creatures with others sculpted in white porcelain to convey the devastating effects of the climate crisis, including widespread bleaching. Her recurring subject matter is becoming increasingly urgent, considering recent reports that estimate that 14 percent of the world’s coral population has been lost in the last decade alone.
Each of the lifeforms is hand-built and pocked with minuscule grooves and textured elements—she shares this meticulous process on Instagram—and once complete, the individual sculptures are assembled in sweeping compositions that radiate outward in shifting gradients. “Water connects us all, from the lush banks of Lawsons Fork Creek to the icy glaciers of the Arctic and glittering reefs of Southeast Asia. Life on Earth is dependent on healthy oceans,” she shares about “Revolve.” “The swirling design of this work is inspired by these connections and patterns, with revolving forms repeated in nature through hurricanes, seashells, ocean waves, and galaxies.”
Mattison’s solo exhibition Turn the Tide is on view at Highfield Hall & Gardens in Massachusetts through October 31 before it travels to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where it will be through May 1, 2022. You explore a larger archive of the artist’s marine works on Behance and her site.
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From Canine Ceramics to Abstract Constructions, a Group Show Opens Hashimoto Contemporary's Los Angeles Space
Ranging from Dan Lam’s drippy, neon blobs (previously) to the minimal, bodily paintings of Laura Berger (previously), an inaugural exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary highlights a diverse array of pieces from two dozen artists working today. The group show launches the gallery’s new space in Culver City and situates Katie Kimmel’s animated ceramic pups (previously) alongside Augustine Kofie’s geometric abstractions and the graffitied scenes by Jessica Hess. If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see the works in person through October 2—keep an eye on Hashimoto’s site for upcoming exhibitions at the new location—and find some of our favorites below.
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Takeout Containers and Worn Sketchbooks by Artist Yoonmi Nam Explore the Permanence of Everyday Disposables
A kitchen table, countertop, or cluttered desk are all likely spots to encounter a piece by South Korean artist Yoonmi Nam. Encompassing ceramic sculptures and sparse lithographs, Nam’s body of work evokes “an ever-present, yet always changing still life,” one that displays the ubiquitous objects of her everyday in more permanent forms. A deep well to hold a bouquet carves out a stack of porcelain take-out containers, minimal prints depict a leafy branch resting in a fast-food cup, and splayed sketchbooks are covered with graph paper-style inlays that appear punctured, leaving frayed ends and stray lines.
Nam’s subject matter, whether a disposable container or notebook with a cracked cover, always has a limited lifespan, a recurring theme that tethers each of the works to questions about ephemerality and value. The artist elaborates in a statement:
I am drawn to man-made spaces and objects that we surround ourselves with, especially when they subtly suggest a contradicting sense of time that seems both temporary and lasting. In the arranged flower imagery, the flowers, once cut from their roots, have only a short remaining time to live. They will quickly wither and die, but before they do, they are elegantly and elaborately arranged, as if time will stand still for them. The containers that hold them are disposable objects, such as a yogurt cup, a Styrofoam take-out box, and an instant noodle bowl. These throwaway objects and cut flowers engage in a dialogue that speaks about impermanence and persistence.
Nam has a few ceramic pieces and lithographs available from Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, and some of her new delivery box-inspired sculptures are on view as part of 2021 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile, which runs through October 14 at the Kansas City Art Institute. You also can explore a larger selection of her works on Instagram.
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A group exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco offers a new perspective on the enduring legacy of the vessel as both standalone object and motif. Spanning ceramic vases, oil-based works on canvas, and sculptures made of paper pulp, the show explores the myriad ways the ubiquitous container has appeared throughout art history and how two dozen artists working today interpret the classic form. Included are the minimal, ritualistic paintings by Laura Berger (previously), Stephanie Shih’s sleek Molotov cocktail inscribed with a strikingly hopeful message, and Katie Kimmel’s zany dogs. We’ve gathered some of our favorite works below, and stop by the gallery before Vessel closes on July 31 to see them in person.
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Melbourne-based artist Sally Kent visualizes the fleeting processes found in nature in her fragile porcelain pods. Cross-cut to reveal an inner seed, flower, or other fruitful organisms, the ceramic works compare the inner life-producing forms that are teeming with color and texture with their stark, smooth shells.
Each piece, which ranges from just a few inches to about a foot, is composed of individual patterns, whether through minuscule orbs or with thin strips of ceramic hung from the outer edges. This use of repetition is a form of embodiment, Kent says, because it evokes the cycles that produce and sustain all life, no matter the species or age. “Each pod begins with an egg form—an archetypal symbol of the cycle of life, death, and renewal, but it also acts as a shell to delineate and protect, albeit fragile, the seen (physical body) and the unseen (the spiritual and emotional world),” she shares.
If you’re in Sydney, you can see Kent’s Protection series, which includes human hands and busts embellished with mythological details, during the first weekend of August at House of Chu. Until then, dive into her process and see more of her hand-built works on Instagram.
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Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Alice Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces. “Every mark I make, whether this be a tool mark or a fingerprint, are preserved in the firing and are not covered or coated or inhibited by a glaze,” the artist writes. “I want the viewer to be able to look at my sculptures from afar and to have one perception of the surface (and) then want to explore closer. On a nearer inspection, the surface decoration reveals layers of multiple colours and time spent through process.”
Focusing on the meditative qualities of repetition, Walton combines pastels and vibrant Earth tones to evoke the sights of her surrounding environment and travels. “The vividly painted sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays,” she shares about a visit to Rajasthan, India. Her choices in pigment still revolve around what she sees on a daily basis—these range from old maps to the seasonal landscapes nearby her studio in Somerset, U.K.—that result in undulating stripes or bold gradients composed with more than 40 colors in “Clements Shade.”
At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded a residency with Wedgwood, where she’s currently working on a new series of sculptural vessels made from the English company’s traditional Jasper clay. Those pieces will be shown at the 2021 biennial in September. She’ll also have work at London’s Chelsea Design Centre from June 22 to 29 and at MAKE Hauser & Wirth Somerset in November. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Seth Rogan)
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.