Installing ceramic vessels or sculptures in an exhibition space can be tricky. It’s something many of us deal with when showing work, so the editorial staff decided to focus this issue on a few different artists who create installations and larger compositions with functional work.
I was thinking about the approaches to displaying work explored by our featured artists as I recently toured the Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) Expo in Chicago, Illinois. The event is held in a huge hall on Navy Pier, so the scale of the space is definitely an issue. The exhibiting galleries and artists employed a variety of successful visual framing solutions to focus viewers’ attention. I was particularly drawn to the starkly lit color-blocked walls used as backgrounds at Ann Nathan Gallery’s booth to display Cristina Córdova’s pieces, including Que Mamen (2), and the groupings of Inhwa Lee’s vessels that played off of one another creating a sense of flow and focus displayed at the Korean Craft and Design Foundation’s booth (1). In the space dedicated to Anderson Ranch Art Center’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration, Alleghany Meadows, who creates sets and uses repeating forms to make symmetrically patterned groupings, successfully drew me in using qualities integral to the arrangement rather than the overall design of the space (3).
Three of the artists featured in this issue employ some of these same techniques when creating installations of their own work. Kimberlee Joy Roth makes curvilinear, ornamental serving pieces that can also be arranged into wall-mounted patterns. She frames the pieces with very specific color fields to activate the compositions’ negative spaces. Christian Tonsgard who, like Meadows, creates patterns with multiples, works with stacked cups and saucers, and compositions of balanced bowls and vases referencing plant growth patterns and the storage of precious work in china cabinets. Heather Mae Erickson creates precise compositions and installations of her dinnerware inspired by narratives and memories. She has also investigated how the stories expand through special gallery events meant to focus viewers on the nuances of using the work and having a communal multi-course meal.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kathleen Whitney discusses the monumental site-specific installations by Adrián Villar Rojas that exist only during an exhibition and are made using unfired clay and other media.
Exhibitions can also change your work in unexpected ways. Matthew Groves, who makes figurative sculptures, discusses how a collaborative show led to a series of vessels in this month’s Spotlight.
After reading the articles, check out the residency listings. A residency is a great opportunity to create a new series, experiment, make connections, and in some cases, also exhibit what you’ve made.