There is always talk of art and how it marks time. One discipline transcends all of that and simply is time, or the essence of time.
Since all beginning, humankind has been alone with earth, water, and fire. Alternating strength and deft touch in one’s hands to form and fire mud into utilitarian and/or artful forms. As I ponder such works I cannot help but think of the loneliness that lies in the heat of the fire and the toil: the engineering, science, mathematics, soul, and physical exertion that goes into the end function, form, and beauty made by the clay artist. It is true poetry, really. And reality.
Some of the finest examples of the discipline can be found now in a most exciting exhibition called “Clay Currents: The Wichita National Ceramics Invitational” at Wichita State’s Ulrich Museum. Twenty-four artists from around the country, masters and promising members of a new generation in clay, present a wide range of current exploration, and the results are fascinating. From the utilitarian to installation pieces in raw clay, the exhibition takes us on a wonderful tour of possibilities.
My emotions over the work ran from laughter, to feelings of unease, to almost delicious sadness. The range and approaches are exhilarating. Overall, when an exhibition can draw these reactions out of me from start to finish, and make me want to come back again, then it has thoroughly, in and of itself, marked time for me.
I will long remember this exhibition.
“Clay Currents” at the Ulrich, through December 8th.