The show coincides with the American ceramics community’s esteemed annual conference put on by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). This year, the conference is centered around the idea of dynamic experiments—ones that reach their materialization through viewers’ narrative insertions and dialogue with their peers. In other words, NCECA pushes for conversational and intellectual collaboration as forms of creation. Gallery NAGA invited one of New England’s preeminent curators, Meredyth Hyatt Moses, to guest curate a show that would time with NCECA. Hyatt has had a long career in ceramics and the art world, due in part to her former role as the owner of Clark Gallery in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Now 81 years old, Hyatt remains as sharp as ever, and has approached the exhibition as an opportunity to create a showcase that pays homage to a selection of artists she admires most.
Hyatt’s exhibition brings together works by 19 ceramic artists—from heroic, established figures to fresh names employing innovative techniques and styles—to emphasize the generative and narrative possibilities of the medium. The show presents a wide array of styles; where many artists take a more abstract approach, others employ figuration and familiar visual tropes.
Hyatt has created moments where the respective artist’s work inform each other, either through the interactions of color or the fluctuations in shape. The show represents a wide spectrum in terms of form, technique, color, and function. Works included range from the sensual, organic pieces of Angela Cunningham, to minimal white bowls by Carol Glenn, to the sharp edges and staccato blocks of color found in hand-built vases and jars by John Gill. Other highlights include a round black-and-yellow ovoid by Jun Kaneko (a small version of the artist’s well-known, monumental sculptures), a curvaceous vessel by Chris Gustin, and abstract forms that play with texture and color by Robert Brady.
While a connective thread among the different pieces may not be evident upon inspection, when it is understood in light of NCECA’s objectives the show can be seen as a physical response to the organization’s goals. While the types of works differ greatly from one another, it is the viewer’s job to set up a web of meaning or a circuit of signification. These works are meant to be visually played with, infiltrated with narrative, and Hyatt has masterfully given us the tools with which to create our own stories.