January 17, 2018

Clay In Transit: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics
Clay in Place: Highlights from the Collection

Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University

Ana Gomez, Combo Talavera, 2008–10. Handpainted stoneware. Courtesy of the artist.

Pulling from the heritage of the Newcomb Pottery enterprise, Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University is pleased to present two concurrent exhibitions examining the use of clay as medium. Opening January 18 and running through March 24, 2018, Clay In Transit: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics and Clay in Place: Highlights from the Collection will showcase works from a myriad of artists who use clay to examine notions of tradition, time, and locality.

In the exhibition Clay In Transit: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics, presented in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico and AMEXCID, the work of seven artists disrupt the viewer’s sense of time. With their return to an antediluvian medium, clay, these artists utilize contemporary techniques or approaches to make profound connections with the past. Works range from Ana Gómez’s tongue-in-cheek talavera fast food containers and María José de la Macorra’s frozen rain crafted from clay beads that create permanence and beauty from everyday forms to Saúl Kaminer, María José Lavin, Perla Krauze and Paloma Torres’ pieces that reinterpret ancestral, architectural, and classical figures for a modern audience. Gustavo Pérez vases experiment in shape, color, and texture—essential qualities to navigating the contemporary world.

Building upon the collective histories of their chosen medium—clay as nature, clay as origin, clay as shelter, clay as dam, clay as vessel, clay as terra firma—the artists poetically materialize their intention of suspending time for, as guest curator Paloma Torres said, “In this contemporary moment, clay is a borderline.”

In the concurrent exhibition Clay in Place: Highlights from the Collection, the connection between locale and material is explored through the museum’s diverse collection of ceramics. While the name Newcomb might evoke the immediate vision of decorative blue vases from the 1910s, much has changed stylistically over the last century as the medium of ceramics has shifted toward non-functional approaches. Regardless of period, clay has endured as an important material that reflects its concurrent environment and milieu. The exhibition highlights both traditional and contemporary ceramics and various artists’ different approaches to function and place.

Works on view will include Newcomb Pottery (1895–1940) and Newcomb Guild (1940–1952), as well as recent pieces by selected alumni, faculty, and former faculty. Among the dozen-plus artists featured are pioneering clay sculptor Peter Voulkos, who conducted a workshop at Tulane in 1978; jewelry designer Mignon Faget; four former heads of the ceramics program, Katherine Choy, Sadie Irvine, Mary Sheerer and Ellsworth Woodward; co-founder of Studio in the Woods, Lucianne Carmichael; and Rachel DePauw, winner of the 2007 Juanita Gonzales Prize in Ceramics.

“Research for Clay in Place has entailed exploring the permanent collection for objects that carry a strong sense of place, one that is specific to Louisiana and the community of Newcomb,” said Newcomb Art Museum’s curator Laura Blereau. “Among the highlights are early 20th century pieces created by members of the Newcomb enterprise, as well as very recent works that have entered our collection this past year. Special to the show are two pieces that Peter Voulkos created in New Orleans during a 1978 workshop with students at Tulane.”

These exhibitions are made possible through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Jennifer Wooster (NC ’91), Don Peters (A&S ’81), Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, Ms. Valerie A. Besthoff, Andrew and Eva Martinez, and the Newcomb Art Museum advisory board. Additional support comes from the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores de México, AMEXCID, FONCA, and the Consulate of Mexico.

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