The Long Island City Artists, an art non-profit known as LIC-A, is currently presenting a bold exhibition that brings together artists who work simultaneously in two media not always thought of as compatible. Curator Matt Nolen has gathered a fascinating group of artists from the NYC metropolitan area who work in both clay and drawing–one influencing and bouncing off the other. The synthesis is a fascinating and genre-bending exhibition.
Nolen has chosen 23 artists whose work runs from small to floor installation size and from hyper-realistic to complete abstraction. The common theme, of course, is how these artists work seamlessly across media. Rather than feature drawings that are simply the prep work for ceramics, we are shown robust work where the ideas introduced in one medium are amplified and expanded upon in another.
Sok Song, whose work is pictured above, comes to ceramics through printmaking and origami. His ceramic sculpture draws on the intricate geometry of origami while utilizing the rich surfaces possible with both ceramic surface materials and collage. More than beautiful (which it is), his work also expresses nuanced statements about immigration and culture.
Jenny Lynn McNutt’s world is run by goofy, sexy rabbits, and that’s a good thing, is what ran through my mind as I looked at her two small pieces in the show. The mutant rabbit sits solidly on what could be an altar, a garden ornament, or a found industrial object. The drawing above is loose and gestural, full of movement and life. The two dance together divinely.
The sturdy buildings that Rosanne Ebner has made in clay and on paper portray an iconic NYC cityscape. They evoke a New York of another era when solid industrial buildings, punctuated with the ever-present water tower, dominated so many neighborhoods. The geometry of the buildings has a little softness to it. We can see the movement of the clay as it has dried and warped a little. It reinforces the narrative of the cityscape- older buildings weather-worn by time with personality and character.
There’s a distinct mid-century modern vibe in Sheryl Zacharia’s two pieces in the show. They look like they would be right at home in a home designed by Florence Knoll or Charles and Ray Eames. The turquoise, mustard, and grey geometry smartly offset the punctuation of a muted orange. Rigorous composition and a consistent palette grace this work with a pleasing formality.
Some of the most elegant work in the exhibition is by Shida Kuo. A suite of four etchings encapsulates long-running themes in Kuo’s work. They portray an object that is both “something” and “not something,” that is, the images are referential to things we may know, but they’re not quite that thing. Kuo dances the line between figuration and abstraction with grace and delicacy. His two large sculptures, one white-on-white (white glaze on white carved clay) and the other black glaze on carved white clay (pictured above), are like sculptural ottomans. They are plump and welcoming. A web of carving all around looks like patterned fabric. The technique of carving the clay mimics the action of making an etching plate.
One of the artists who has actively combined two and three dimensions in their work is Melissa Stern. The assemblage pieces in the exhibition seamlessly combine clay, wood, paint, and drawing media. It is hard to tell what is what, but presumably, that is the artist’s intent. Materials matter less than the ideas behind them. Her pieces are narrative, funny, and a little dark. She plays actively with the boundaries of the wooden panels in these pieces; the drawing doesn’t end at the edge but wraps around and behind.
This is an expansive show with lots of artists and ideas running through it. Nolen has tackled a big concept with curatorial rigor and aesthetic vision. The result is an exhibition that is eye-opening, original, idiosyncratic, and rewarding. Catch the show before it ends on Feb 7.
Ceramics + Drawing into Sculpture– through Feb. 7 LIC-A Art Space – The Factory, Suite 105a, 30-30 47th Ave, Long Island City, NY