At the Regional Arts Commission gallery, six artists employ metals, ceramic and fibers to spill out narratives, observations and ideas.
Their works blur distinctions between fine art and the art of craft, often defined as the making of utilitarian objects. The philosophical effusions of these artists, along with amazing technical skills, raise their contributions well beyond craft.
Fiber artist Erin Dimick questions over-familiar gender assumptions – women do craft, men do science and math. Recycling materials found in thrift stores, the artist as hunter-gatherer arranges them into collages, spun with spectral beauty and assembled with golden thread.
Editing mathematical formulas and page fragments, she highlights selected texts – reworking, gold leafing and embossing them into relics. Her framed fabrics seem to hang by an ephemeral thread, in both concept and object.
The works of potter and sculptor James Ibur suggest oceanic narratives. Undulating lines, as in “Blue Spiral,” rhythmically echo the natural world and human history. Incised references to classic myths are graphic reminders of the sacredness of journey.
These organic works speak with a disquieting vocabulary of formal beauty – enigmatic vessels, fluidly infused with memories. Containers with value beyond the craft of object-making, they proclaim that to carry meaning is as basic as to carry water or grain.
Using gold, silver and bronze metals, metalsmith Sherri Jaudes organizes nature into vignettes of insects and their environments, in delicately beautiful dioramas. The parallel lives of humans and their effect on her tiny subjects, as in “Sweet Work” and “Patience,” though invisible, are compactly present.
Yael Shomroni humorously throws her clay – not as expected common pottery of useful containers for the table – but as witty celebrations of daily experience. Personality is the artist’s focus, delightfully uncorked in “Decanter with an Attitude.”
Laura Strand hangs jacquard tapestries with graphic surface designs that radiate luminous color – mapped landscapes and waterways, dislodged from a sense of place. Her intricate and aesthetically satisfying patterns also pique interest in irreversible changes to the basic warp and woof of life.
Laura Elizabeth Mullen
Perhaps the clearest expression of the exhibition’s intent might be seen in Laura Elizabeth Mullen’s Cast Iron Necklace Series, created from sterling silver, diamonds, pearls and cast iron – a striking combination of precious and industrial materials. Are these our dry bones? Are they contemporary adornments to hang from the neck, or awesomely crafted vanitas to exhibit and ponder before archival entombment?
This very personal exhibit, curated by artist Nancy Newman Rice, deconstructs value systems and cultural notions, as it reaches beyond surface definitions of art or craft, towards more unsettling questions. Finding poetic connections between life and death, Rice jostles the viewer to leap past traditional craft definitions, with these provocative works that challenge and exalt humanity.