BAYarts presents annual ceramic exhibition: 'Body of Work'

A collection of face jugs by Kim Case. 

May marks the return of the BAYarts annual ceramic exhibition. Moira Beale, head of BAYarts' ceramic department, curates the exhibition, which is in its 10th year. The theme this year is "Body of Work," inspired by the human form both literally and figuratively.

When it comes to the literal use of the exhibition name, Beale describes the elements of a piece. "The interesting thing about ceramics is that every part of a pot is named after a body part ... you have the feet, the belly, the neck. We talk a lot about the human form in ceramics." It's a matter of language. But "Body of Work" also has a thematic visual aspect.

Visually, ceramics present plenty of ways to convey the human form. "Not only are ceramics named after the body, but it's very sensual. You may have a classic pot from Japan that might have a full belly and a neck. You could look at that, and to me, that can be very human-like." In this knowledge, Beale had found her inspiration.

"Body of work" as a phrase also applies to the cumulative years of experience for these advanced students. "This is a show for intermediate to advanced students," said Beale. "I want beginners to play with clay and try a million different things. When you begin, you do a little bit of everything. For 'Body of Work,' we're talking about a cohesive grouping where all the pieces relate to each other in a way. Once advanced students have gone through a lot of playing and experimenting, we want them to take one thing and work on it, craft it, and take it as far as they can take it." The dedication required is what helps advanced students skillfully produce their work.

What can one expect to see on opening night? Instructor and artist Andrea Serafino is using black and white pieces with sgraffito, which is an application of applying paint, drawing a design, and carving paint away to reveal the art. "They are male and female designs, but they are subtle abstract designs," she explained. "One has female breasts on it, but if you don't know to look for it, you probably won't see it. I like playing with those hidden meanings you don't get right away."

There is Kim Case, who has specifically chosen to expand upon the human head, working on expressions in over 60 pieces. "I've always loved and admired the 'folk art' face jugs made in the Carolinas and Georgia in the 1800s by African-American slaves. Whether made for practical, spiritual or political purposes, those original face jugs seem sacred to me, and I didn't want to copy them. I simply wanted to learn to make my own that captured a feeling, imparted by facial expression. I want them to be evocative." The pieces range in size from 4 inches to 12 inches and display a variety of glazes.

Mr. Saddlebags, Sally Seashells, and Mr. He-haw are mixed media dolls with ceramic faces, created by Heather McQueen. "I'm a jeweler, so I like working in small scale," she says about her decision to focus on the tiny, striking faces. "I like organic forms, incorporating texture, and things I find." To that point, feedsacks and vintage fabric from the '30s were both employed for the constructions of the charming line-up.

Joan Barrett has three statement pieces that represent wind, water and fire. In each, a ceramic sphere, encased by an encaustic medium, sits atop a ceramic structure. The fire-themed base utilizes a bright red glaze, with the others following true to their elements. "These represent an attack on the fragileness of the earth," she said. Two of the spheres will be topped with wire figures of the human form. In using wax over the pottery, she is using a brand-new application for the medium that she had to figure out on her own.

What's clear is that no two students are working on the same thing.
Students have more than just the ability to exhibit their work, but also to learn the entire exhibition process. This includes working out the display, pricing and business aspects. This is all guided by Beale. "I was a gallery owner for some years, and I know what shops and galleries are looking for, and what is needed to produce that work," she stated. "Having that background, I wanted to teach these students what was involved in producing professional work. It includes their commitment to production, deadlines, pricing their pieces, and taking care of the reception. I want them to learn everything that is involved in putting a show together." All of that will be done during the course of a week, culminating in the opening reception. 
As the students and artists grow, Beale feels great pride. "These students are other things in their real life," said Beale, "but with the hours they spend in the studio, they can produce work that's exhibit worthy and they can feel proud of it. We love to show what we can do here." 

The exhibition will be on display May 4-26 (daily hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.), with an opening reception on Friday, May 4, 7-9 p.m.

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 10:05 AM, 05.01.2018