Jennifer McCurdy Harnesses an Island’s Natural Rhythms in Captivating Porcelain Vessels
The natural patterns of turning tides and changing seasons illuminate the delicate porcelain sculptures of Martha’s Vineyard-based artist Jennifer McCurdy. Responding to the shifts of island life—and “island time”—she draws inspiration from the surrounding environment and organic forms, like “the cracked conch shell on the beach revealing its perfect spiral to the milkweed pod burst in the field, its brilliant airborne seeds streaming into the sunlight,” she explains in a statement. Her wheel-thrown porcelain vessels capture both subtle and dramatic shifts in light and shadow, mimicking waves, gales, smoke, and flames.
In 2020, when, like many, McCurdy was obliged to slow down and approach her studio practice under the constraints of canceled exhibitions, she seized the opportunity to re-evaluate her own work, telling Colossal that “once my panic receded, I settled into the mindset of the sabbatical, exploring new forms and testing different carving patterns in the porcelain for optimal movement in the firing.” She broadened the questions she asked of her process and the influence it took from nature, such as how the rocks and shoreline met the surrounding sea or whether she could generate the energy of constant movement in her sculptures. “I think the direction of my work did not change, but it gained clarity from focusing on the space between and around each form,” she says.
McCurdy uses a translucent porcelain that she first shapes on a potter’s wheel and then manipulates, slices, or molds to create a sense of motion, often with a swirling or spiraling effect. A series of “pattern studies” highlight dynamic cuts that extend and slump with the assistance of gravity when fired upside-down in a kiln heated to cone ten—or 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit. With the addition of gold or platinum leaf on the interior, which is applied by the artist’s long-time collaborator, former sign painter, and husband Tom McCurdy, the vessels reflect light and evoke warmth, as if formed around a heat source
McCurdy’s work will be on display in Florida at Art Wynwood and The Palm Beach Show with Steidel Fine Art from February 16 to 19. In May, she will also exhibit in the Smithsonian Craft + Design Show in Washington, D.C. Find more on her website and Instagram.
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Gold Ornaments and Precious Stones Adorn Tender Photographic Portraits by Tawny Chatmon
In If I’m No Longer Here, I Wanted You to Know, photographic artist Tawny Chatmon overlays portraits of young children and families with dabs of 24-karat gold leaf, precious stones, and watercolor details. The heavily adorned images are the latest in Chatmon’s superimposed works, which veered from digital collages to the hand-gilded pieces evocative of Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase that are similar to those shown here, and respond to themes of unity and togetherness born out of the ongoing pandemic.
While many of Chatmon’s works previously centered on a single subject, she’s transitioned to also photographing two children at play or entire families, including fathers where she otherwise had not. She explains:
My father played such a paramount role in my, my sisters’, and my mother’s lives. It did not sit well with me that I wasn’t celebrating that in my work, too. It has been 10 years since we lost our father to prostate cancer, yet still, his lessons and love carry us through our days. I thought of my husband too, my brother-in-law, my friend’s fathers and husbands, and all of the world’s compassionate fathers and how important they are, and I especially wanted to celebrate Black fathers who are often depicted as anything other than what they truly are… phenomenal.
Through gilt embellishments, Chatmon emphasizes the beauty and value inherent in her subjects, whose joyful, tender expressions and gestures exude warmth and affection. “The past year’s pandemic revealed to me once more that time with our loved ones is not infinite… While the revelations of injustice leading to civil unrest reminded me of the urgency to continue to work towards a better future for our children,” she says. “I do not wish to wait for the perfect time, the perfect place, or the perfect day to express my love for family and friends.”
Currently based in Maryland, Chatmon will show some of her portraits with Galerie Myrtis at the 2022 Venice Biennial. She’s working on a new series titled Remnants, which explores themes of futurity and harmony through mosaic-style pieces comprised of snippets of the artist’s previous paintings. You can follow her progress on Instagram.
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Trimmed in Gold, Ceramic Vessels by Artist Yurim Gough Challenge Notions of Gender
Through nine ceramic bowls, Yurim Gough untangles the complex narratives surrounding performance, appearance, and gender fluidity. Her identity-centric pieces—which are infused with layers of pencil renderings, thread, and other materials that can require nearly a dozen rounds of firing at multiple temperatures to complete—depict figures outfitted with ostentatious costumes and elaborately painted faces. Drawing on aspects of queer culture, Gough’s vessels are disruptive and revisionary, simultaneously exposing the dated and constructed nature of traditional gender categories while reveling in the history of those who’ve subverted norms.
Gough’s gold-trimmed collection will be on view as part of Salvage, a group exhibition curated by Colossal’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Christopher Jobson at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. Opening tonight, January 22, Salvage shares how artists are revitalizing fragments of tradition and culture that were destined to be lost, relegated to the periphery, or buried forever. The exhibition, which you can tour virtually, launches with a live talk with Jobson, Gough, André Schulze (previously), and Debra Broz (previously)—tickets are available on Eventbrite—and runs through February 20.
Now based in the U.K., the South Korean artist has a background in fashion. Explore more of her work, which includes a variety of self-portraiture and considerations of contemporary culture, on her site and Instagram.
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An Opulent Kintsugi Installation by Victor Solomon Gilds a Dilapidated Basketball Court in Los Angeles
Celebrating the restorative qualities of sports and basketball’s return this past week, Victor Solomon mended a deteriorated court in South Los Angeles through the ancient art of Kintsugi—the Japanese method of repairing broken pottery by using metallic substances to mend the fractures. The artist filled cracks in the cement with gold-dust resin, highlighting the years of use “to accentuate the healing as a formative part of its journey,” he says. “Sport can entertain, inspire, and distract, but more apropos than all, the platform of sport can help us heal.” Titled “Kintsugi Court,” the gilded installation has similarly lavish backboards and hoops.
The restored court is just one of Solomon’s explorations into the sport and the ways it intersects with luxury. For more of his embellished projects, head to Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)
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A Centuries-Old Art Form Hides Within the Gilded Pages of Antique Books
Martin Frost creates paintings in places that people can’t see, or can only find if they know exactly where to look. The UK-based artist is a fore-edge painter, which means he produces elaborate designs and scenes along the edges of gilded books. The works are discovered only when you fan the pages in a certain way, and become hidden by the book’s gold edges as soon it is closed. “It is a discrete painting,” Frost tells Great Big Story. “It is only there when you know how to unlock it.”
Vanishing fore-edge painting dates back to about 1660, but didn’t become popular until the 18th-century. Frost has practiced the rare art form for the last 40 years, and as far as he knows, is the last commercial fore-edge painter in the world. You can view more of his hidden paintings, in addition to a series of illuminated miniatures, on his website. (via Great Big Story)
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Liquid Gold Appears to Flow, Drip, and Drain Through Galleries by Vanderlei Lopes
In this ongoing body of sculptural works, Brazillian artist Vanderlei Lopes creates temporary interventions where his polished brass objects appear to pour and drain like gold from the walls or floors of galleries. Much of Lopes’ work plays with aspects of transformation, be it through the tension of liquid and solid forms seen here, by subtraction, or experimenting with orientation. You can see much more of his work on Artsy and Athena Contemporânea.
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