Beyond The Vessel
It's ceramic showdown time again! The annual South Texas Ceramic Showdown: Beyond the Vessel exhibit is now on display at the STC Library Art Gallery and the UTPA Visitors Center in Edinburg. Two exhibits under one concept explore the sharing of ideas, ceramics-wise, from different Texas institutions. This 3rd annual exhibition, in collaboration with a conference, displays student and faculty ceramic works from eleven universities and community colleges across Texas.
The strongest feature of this exhibit is the exhibition of works by the conference's featured speakers: Aaron Calvert of Henderson State University, Charles Wissinger of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Fulden Sara-Wissinger of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Coastal Bend College. Exhibited in the upstairs gallery at the LAG, their work is technically interesting and aesthetically satisfying.
Chuck Wissinger showed different approaches with his work. There is the riff off traditional ceramics in his "Made in China" porcelain plate. In "The Many Worlds of Chuck" he went non-traditional with a sculptural expression that blurred the boundary between ceramics and sculpture. Led by ideas rather than materials, he depicts things that have personal significance, including a self-portrait.
"The thing I was interested in pursuing in this show was the autobiographical piece," explained Wissinger. "One of the things that really impacted me was going to Oaxaca a few years ago and seeing the playful way that they do these things about life. I particularly liked the Aguilar women figures, where, down the skirt, the whole saga of the family plays out. Before that, I had never done anything with biographical intent, but then I got interested."
Aaron Calvert's "Sandblasted Black Ant" vessel is a sophisticated work with a witty, beautifully designed insect motif. Fulden Sara-Wissinger's flat clay pieces are gemlike with varieties of rich color and texture flowing within restrained areas.
The remainder of the exhibit at the LAG is spread out across tops of bookcases. "Varvara (I love your dear eyes my friend)," porcelainious clay body and mixed media, by Sasha Nochovka, UTSA, creates an ambiguous balance between cruelty and protection. The preciousness of the animal - we see only the worried eyes and gilded nose and toenails protruding from a leather wine bag, creates a disconnect between tragic reality and a decorative table piece.
Faculty and graduate student ceramics are worth a look, but I felt that the remainder of student works reflected a lack of personal connection to the medium.
"I'd like to see us focusing on South Texas outward," Wissinger added. "If we can get the idea of South Texas out there, I think it can plug into some pretty important international things."
A South Texas Ceramic Showdown:
Beyond the Vessel, 3rd Annual Exhibition
Where: STC Library Art Gallery, Pecan Street campus
UTPA Visitors Center, Edinburg
When: through July 3. LAG: Mon/Wed, 8-10 a.m. & 2-4 p.m. Tues/Thur-10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; CLOSED Friday.UTPA: Mon-Fri 7:30am-5pm; Sat, 8am-2pm.
Info: LAG: 956-872-3488; UTPA 956 292 7338
Nancy Moyer, PhD, is the art critic for Festiva. She is an independent artist living in McAllen and may be reached at email@example.com