The University of the Art’s Rosenwald Wolf Gallery is hosting the NCECA 2010 National Student Juried Exhibition of handpicked ceramic works from 40 artists enrolled in various graduate and undergraduate programs across the United States. Among the array of masterful ceramic work, a majority of the figurative pieces within this exhibition dominate the show, impressing passersby with their whimsical nature, quizzical poses, and curious contextual allusions.
The mythical creature that suspends herself in an imaginative dance on the far left of the gallery is Paige Wright’s The Huntress, which cautiously emerges towards us from her anchored perch. The intentionally mangled limbs of the body surely extenuates the awkward gesture of this prying creature; meaty details such as the noticeable accumulations of body fat and the duality of masculine and feminine characteristics heighten the surreal, humanlike qualities that this piece possesses. The blackened hands and feet eerily attest to the dirty walls that she possibly has climbed, and perhaps even suggest to what she has torn apart with her bare hands. With a heavy shadow cast underneath her, The Huntress leaves us with the sensation that we have caught a glimpse of a predator fabricated within our dreams.
Adjacent to the previous piece, Kiera Norton’s Poppy Love delightfully accumulates her life experiences within her rendering of a voluptuous, bright pink dolphin, perched on a blanket of soft, white fur. The dolphin laughs at us through a flashing grin of sharpened, minuscule teeth. The sexual playfulness of the sculpture makes it impressively unique and lighthearted, as Norton encompasses the idea of female sexual allure with a tongue-and-cheek lashing that confronts the male gaze by replacing the female form with that of a cartooned animal.
Norton, who references pin-up artists such as Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren, explains that within her work she aims to use playful hybrids of animals and humans to merge conventional beauty with the grotesque. While Norton explains that “the subtle menace of sharp teeth and defined musculature evince predatory motives,” she also adds that “they are comical figures, meant to remind us that we humans are not so far above other animals in our need to perform seemingly absurd sexual displays and rituals.”
Many other pieces throughout the gallery were equally loaded with conceptually packed, thought-provoking punches. Near the back of the exhibition, Janet Macpherson’s Untitled unveils to audiences the duality of good and evil with her display of a precarious balancing-act of mirroring Virgin Maries, one red and one black.
Mark Stafford’s teapot near the entrance of the gallery, entitled Actually, I’m Korean, is a must-see of the show, which directly confronts issues of national identity and social stereotypes with a play of traditional functional pottery. At first the viewer observes a delicate bust of a man’s head, but upon closer inspection, one becomes subtly aware of the brutal functionality of this vessel: if one were to pour water into his skull, steaming hot streams of water will waterfall from the orifices of his eye sockets.
Christopher Adelhardt is the only artist to claim two separate pieces in the show: Anti-Biotic, and A White Elephant. While at first the visual impact of these works is an aesthetically beautiful experience, the details imply loads of content. The trophy-like, armored figure in Anti-Biotic serves as a towering battleground for toy-soldiers. This manifestation of a super-human figurine stands erect amidst dripping, rusted streams that are powerfully reminiscent of bloodshed.
Similarly, Adelhardt’s intricately made elephant is presented to us as a decapitated beast whose head rests upon a pedestal on its own back. The details within these pieces invite viewers to get a closer look, and effectively leave us to ponder the richly symbolic, seemingly violent nature of these works.
Overall, the NCECA 2010 National Student Juried Exhibition in summary is diverse, formally strong, and incredibly visually powerful. Jurors Erin Furimsky, a studio artist and assistant professor at Illinois Sate University, and Matt Long, a studio artist and assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, and made this a well-worth gallery visit that you should see for yourself.
The University of the Arts Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery is located at:
333 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Gallery Hours: Mon. through Fri. 10 -5, Sat. 12-5 (open exceptionally for this exhibition only, Sunday, April 4th, 12-5)
Jennifer Hallden-Abberton, BA Moore College of Art and Design 2008, blends printmaking, digital photography, and oil painting to explore life in urban surroundings. She is really excited to be a new addition to the artblog and hopes to write reviews as much as possible.