Looking Sculpture
Looking Sculpture
ceramic, pedestal paint
2021

ORIGIN STORIES // EXPANDED CERAMICS IN THE BAY AREA
Curated by Tanya Zimbardo
SPRING 2021

Ebitenyefa Baralaye, Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik and María Inés Leal García, The Brick Factory, Ilana Crispi, Futurefarmers, Nicki Green, Dana Hemenway, Kari Marboe, Mutual Stores, Stephanie Syjuco

Spanning the past decade, Origin Stories: Expanded Ceramics in the Bay Area surveys key works by 10 artists and artist groups who consider ceramics in relation to site and place. Select works trace where material comes from in the landscape, while others investigate histories of ceramic production and the movement of objects across international borders.

We begin with works by Kari Marboe and Dana Hemenway that playfully encourage close looking and are installed in relation to the Berkeley Art Center’s unique building. The show moves outward to cultural subjects associated with Berkeley and California, to works first performed in the environment of artists’ neighborhoods, or developed through artist residency programs in the Bay Area.

This exhibition foregrounds the contributions of both interdisciplinary artists and artists who primarily work with clay to a larger and vibrant contemporary field. Several artists bring a conceptually driven approach to functional ceramics, embracing the potential to invite participation and community engagement. For Ilana Crispi and Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik & María Inés Leal García, conversation over tea becomes a vehicle for sharing the story of place.

“THE CUP. THE BRICK. SOME OF THE OLDEST AND SIMPLEST FORMS ARE EMPLOYED HERE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.”

The cup. The brick. Some of the oldest and simplest forms are employed here in different ways. The show is centered on works that are about ceramics itself, moving beyond the traditional capacity of ceramic sculpture to portray something or someone. They draw attention to the basic elements and conditions behind the medium, from the apparatus of the kiln to the byproduct of ceramic waste.

From the collectives Futurefarmers to Mutual Stores, this show highlights the role of collaboration and artist publications as significant forms of expression. The expanded field represented here often embraces the idea of multiple formats and modes of distribution, in-person and online. Certain multiyear projects will continue to unfold and inhabit different spaces.

Several of the artists are not only contemporaries, but taught or studied with one another during the past decade. Related virtual public programs will not only illuminate artist processes, but discuss teaching and making work during a global pandemic. It has been a particularly challenging moment for an inherently communal medium. For the closing weekend, we will host a Bay Area Cup Swap outside the gallery in neighboring Live Oak Park, offering an opportunity for a lively and socially distant form of exchange, open to all makers.

—Tanya Zimbardo, Guest Curator