Melting Point: Movements in Contemporary Clay
January 28, 2018 — May 6, 2018
Melting Point is Craft Contemporary’s inaugural clay biennial, which marks the intense growth within the field of ceramics over the past two decades. Though clay has historically been used to make functional objects, the ease with which clay can be accessed and manipulated makes it a powerful material for many contemporary artists to explore its capacity for innovation. Currently, there is a considerable amount of attention on clay from the art establishment and visual artists whose primary practice is outside the realm of ceramics; but it is important to emphasize that ceramic artists have been responsible for spearheading innovations and experimentations with clay for decades. These developments have expanded the discourse around ceramics, the way clay is used, and how the ceramic object is fundamentally experienced.
The exhibition is organized around three major themes that represent the energy and activity in recent contemporary practice. Anti-disciplinary approaches negate traditional ceramic tenets of perfect form and refined glazing; instead, they prefer intense experimental manipulation of material and processes resulting in amorphous or imperfect forms. Ephemerality results from works made with moist or unfired clay. These pieces are often performative or temporal in nature since they subvert the kiln firing that turns clay into hardened ceramic. Some artists question the value of ceramic objects as indicators of class and personal identity proposing new sociopolitical interpretations for these ceramic works. Most artists merge multiple themes, giving their work rich layers of technical and conceptual depth. By interrogating and advancing traditional definitions of ceramics, the twenty-two exhibition artists are shaping the ways in which the ceramic object will be exhibited and discussed in years to come.
Exhibition Artists: Brian Benfer, Susannah Biondo-Gemmell, Ling Chun, Armando Cortes, Patsy Cox, Julia Haft-Candell, Stanton Hunter, Kahlil Robert Irving, Trevor King, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Linda Lopez, Walter McConnell, Ben Medansky, Jonathan Mess, Kristen Morgin, Wayne Perry, Jami Porter Lara, Brian Rochefort, Anthony Sonnenberg, Emily Sudd, Cheryl Ann Thomas, Matt Wedel.
Curators: Holly Jerger and Andres Payan Estrada
This exhibition is funded in part by The Boardman Family Foundation; the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. In-kind support from Laguna Clay Company. The museum would like to thank Emma Rudman, Jaya Neupaney, and all the volunteers who assisted with the exhibition.
Exhibition Photography: Farah Sosa
Lead Image: Wayne Perry, Uncovering History and Taking It to the Streets (detail), 2018. Various unfired clays, site-specific installation, Courtesy of the artist.