New for 2012, the Penland Gallery has opened an exhibit space primarily dedicated to single-artist exhibitions. Focusing on individual artists over the course of the year, this Focus Gallery will present a larger selection of their work to gallery visitors and patrons. The first Focus artist is Kathy King, a Boston-based ceramic sculptor and teacher, whose narrative ceramic installation Speak to Me will be on view from Friday, March 30 through Sunday, April 29.
“From childhood onward, human beings are taught to surround themselves with substances to consume and adorn themselves with. The need arose to create containers that not only provided a function but also amplified the experience of the user. From the attic vase to the 20th century novelty coffee mug, much about the societies that provided these vessels can be read from the images on the pots. Our ability to reference the ceramic object through the functional use, decorative beauty, or historical placement, confers strength upon ceramics as a powerful vehicle for commenting on contemporary, cultural issues.
In my work I use ceramic vessels, tiled furniture and printmaking, either separately or combined in installations, which present narratives from a woman’s point of view. My ideas are influenced by personal experience, and I often use myself as a character in the work. This presentation of personal narrative on ceramics through satirical humor, irony and sarcasm allows me to both celebrate and poke fun at my gender as well as myself. The combination of narrative presented on the surface, united with the contents or each vessel, allow a dialogue between function and narrative. Though each pot’s narrative may contain the equivalent of a one-line joke, when the pieces are considered together they convey a singular theme in a serial format.
I am interested in mapping the ways that popular culture – including comic books, magazines, television shows, films, and a host of other forms help to shape and change how our culture views women. Popular culture does not simply reflect women’s lives; it helps to create them and so demands critical scrutiny. My ultimate objective is to translate my own personal experience in relation to my culture, through narrative imagery on the utilitarian ceramic form. When I present these works in an installation, the stage is then set for my own epic tale of the struggles of mortals within our society. Though the urgency of these issues may range anywhere between morality to finding the right brand of cellulite cream, collectively, the human experience is recorded, as told through the voice of one woman.” — Kathy King