The Penland Gallery presents Within the Margins: Contemporary Ceramics, an exhibition curated by Steven Young Lee, in the John and Robyn Horn Gallery. Seventeen artists are represented in the exhibition with mostly narrative ceramic sculpture in a wide range of forms and styles. The exhibition runs from May 30 through July 16 with a gallery talk at 3:30 PM on Saturday, June 3 and a reception to follow from 4:30 to 6:30 PM.
The group of artists is quite varied in terms of their cultural backgrounds and personal histories, and this is reflected in the content of the work. Shalene Valenzuela, for example, says of her bright-colored earthenware and porcelain sculptures: “My narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues.” Sculptor Sunkoo Yuh makes complex pieces that are often groupings of forms including plants, animals, fish, and human figures. He describes his process this way: “I draw images intuitively and spontaneously with ink and brush. I study my drawings and select a few to transform into three-dimensional clay sculptures. My work expresses my inner emotions, communications about life, and directly draws from mundane experiences.”
Curator Steven Young Lee is the resident artist director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. He has lectured extensively in North America and Asia including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His work was recently featured as part of “Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
In describing his intent for the exhibition, Lee said, “The exhibition includes artists who, while residing within one set of perceived margins or another, are working from within to expand or redefine those boundaries, ultimately shifting the lines of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, cultural identity, or material association. Each artist is articulating a world view, and the most important aspect of their work is the sincerity of their investigation and quality of their execution. The title, Within the Margins, recognizes that while boundaries do exist, the mere fact of their existence invites—if not demands—that they be confronted, challenged and reshaped.”
Also on view, in the Focus Gallery, is a small-format exhibition of functional ceramics by Holly Walker. She specializes in handbuilt earthenware and approaches the surfaces of her pots as a painter, brushing colored slips over the clay surface and then layering them with multiple glazes. This exhibition is titled Abecedarium/Envisioned because it includes an installation of twenty-six plates whose designs are inspired by the letters of the alphabet. The gallery talk at 3:30 on Saturday, June 3 will include remarks from both Steven Young Lee and Holly Walker.
The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School, while the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery is a monumental steel sculpture by Hoss Haley and two new stone installations by Carl Peverall.
The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays. For more information call 828-765-6211 or visit penland.org/gallery.