Shapes of things

Magdalene Crivelli, “Masks,” ceramic, 2003.

Magdalene Crivelli, “Masks,” ceramic, 2003.

The ceramic-sculpture process is a unique and direct approach at making art. An artist starts with a lump of clay—that’s it—and, with hand, eye and mind, creates. Few external sources interfere with this method of expression—that is, until the firing begins. Once the basic form is established, the process becomes complicated, requiring the artist to think several steps in advance, and tends to bend more toward science than art. But the whole process offers the artist a way to develop an object of truly personal raw expression.

An exhibit titled Clay Connections, opening today and running throughout the month at the Solomon Dubnick Gallery, celebrates this vastness of creative expression in ceramic sculpture. The group show features work by Magdalene Crivelli, Eric Dahlin, Melody Evans, Fred Gordon, Thomas Orr, Nora Pineda, Tom Rippon, Stephanie Taylor and Rimas VisGirda, and it runs the gamut as far as the possibilities that ceramics can offer.

Crivelli’s piece, “Emotional Junk,” is a series of masks, each with its own expression alluding to the range of emotion each of us experiences on a daily basis. Orr takes a different approach with his straightforward geometric forms, glazed with other simple shapes overlapping to evoke a minimal feeling of space. Gordon pulls from his love of fishing with his sculptures of fish and a couple of boats surrounded by sharks with the boats’ occupant eerily missing.

Other strong pieces include “Perceptions” by Taylor, a work with a postmodern slant that depicts people intrigued by something on display, though there is no clear indication of what they’re viewing. Evans’ work focuses on the more tactile elements of sculpture; her pieces are abstract and evoke various moods simply by the unusual shapes and textures of the objects.

This is a show that inspires. It makes one realize the possibility of carrying out a creative endeavor thoughtfully and thoroughly. Sitting there staring at a lump of clay doesn’t mean that the end product will always be great. This exhibit teaches us that taking an idea and pursuing it with as much of its purity intact as possible can lead to great results.