Humans have been making ceramic pottery for the last 20,000 years, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new under the sun (or inside the kiln).
For the artists featured in Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution’s newest exhibition, ceramic is a medium for works of contemporary art.
“Flora / Fauna” opens with a reception at 3 p.m. today, July 25, in the Bellowe Family Gallery of the Strohl Art Center. The exhibition will run until Aug. 20.
The show features ceramic works from three international artists, all represented by Ferrin Contemporary in North Adams, Massachusetts.
“(The artists’) goal is not to produce a perfectly pouring teapot,” said Leslie Ferrin, Ferrin Contemporary director. “Their use of familiar forms … allows them as artists to deliver individual messages about environmentalism and shared global concerns.”
Judy Barie, Susan and John Turben Director of VACI Galleries, worked with Ferrin to put together the show.
“(Barie) chose these three artists to feature in this exhibition,” Ferrin said. “The connecting thread was their common interests in portrayals of flora and fauna.”
Sin-Ying Ho is a ceramics artist who lives and works in New York City and Jingdezhen, China. Much of her work deals with her multinational identity: She was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada.
Sin-Ying makes all her pieces in Jingdezhen, a city that has been famous for porcelain production for more than 1,000 years.
She utilizes traditional Chinese colors and designs with a global spin. Her piece, “Source of Wealth,” features images of Chinese coins overlaid with the logos of internationally known brands like Starbucks, Mastercard and Chanel.
“She provides us with layers of information (in her pieces) that deal with her identity as a woman, her Chinese heritage and living in a Western world,” Ferrin said.
Paul Scott is a conceptual artist based in Northern England. For his project, “American Scenery,” he studied American transferware china from the 1800s.
Scott’s updated transferware pieces feature modern environmental and industrial imagery printed to antique china.
“The original transferware was about Manifest Destiny ideas and how the western Europeans came to (an) America so heavily laden with resources,” Ferrin said. “Now he’s looking at it 200 years later and (asking), ‘What have we done with those resources?’ ”
Stephen Bowers is a South Australia-based ceramics artist. His colorful pieces feature meticulous collage patterns inspired by decorative textiles, wallpapers and natural history illustrations.
“He hand paints things that look like they were printed,” Ferrin said.
Many of his works center around Australian birds and botanical imagery.
Ferrin said Scott and Bowers are friends whose works relate in unlikely ways.
“Their ideas are related to one another even though they’re on different parts of the planet,” she said.
Ferrin is excited that Chautauqua is hosting an exhibition with such global reach.
“We’re thrilled that Chautauqua can provide an (American) audience the opportunity to see work in person by renowned international masters,” she said.