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New Directions: Lacoste Gallery presents group exhibition of avant garde artists
Colby Parsons, Materiality of Light 3, digital projection on ceramic, 15 x 22.5 x 4, 2013.

By: Lucy Lacoste

CONCORD, MASS.- Lacoste Gallery presents New Directions August 10 – September 1, 2013, a group exhibition of avant garde artists taking the classical medium of ceramics and updating it for our modern sensibility. These five: Josephine Burr, Sunshine Cobb, Colby Parsons, Paolo Porelli and Linda Swanson experiment with clay using it as a starting point for paintings, satirical sculptures and even as a screen for projections. They are bringing ceramics in a new direction, building the bridge between the traditional and the next phase for the ceramic medium.

August is a month that we often do a group show with new work. The idea for this show came at NCECA the national clay conference, held this year in Houston. There you could see a shift taking place with work about ideas and pure sculpture and new combinations of media pushing out work about the material and the process. Of course this trend has been going on for a while, yet here you could see it taking over. This show speaks to this shift and change point.

Colby Parsons makes sculpture that explores the transformative potential at the intersection of physical material and digital media. His background in ceramics gives him an aesthetic based in raw materiality, however he is also fascinated with the potential of new media to add motion and different kinds of interactivity to what is usually a static form of expression. This investigation has taken a variety of forms which often combines sculptural elements with digital video projections. In all of these works, he is taking something he considers ordinary, something that is not particularly noteworthy or interesting, and transforming it into a visual spectacle using the filmic illusion of animation. This act draws attention not only to the way we place value on certain objects or experiences over others, but also considers our visual interpretation of reality itself.

Linda Swanson who has a long history in art history and ceramics, makes pieces shown on the wall. These discs are called “Views” and are reminiscent of 18th century landscape paintings. The large diameter porcelain discs are hung in a metal frame which gives an illusion of depth. Her childhood fostered a passion for nature which the “Views” convey with subtle nuances of crazing, pooling and unusual color. Colored glaze pools and crystals are formed. The discs have to be made very carefully; their concave forms flatten during the firing.

Josephine Burr presents a body of work that explores the fluidity of lines – looped, clustered, connected and shifting - rendered themselves in a shifting spectrum of form, surface, color and light. To her the ceramic medium offers both a malleable material for “drawing” form in space as with her asymmetrical wall piece of blocks on which she paints and draws, and a surface on which line, color and even light can be manipulated as in her sculptures of knots. The tactile intimacy, and alchemy, of the material allows a deeply intuitive, responsive process through which the pieces emerge.

The work of Paolo Porelli focuses on the evocative capacity of sculpture, mythological images that provide access to an archetypal dimension of reality. They seek to give form to an interpretation of critical behaviors of contemporary man and their environmental consequences. The sculptures serve as sentinel figures that represent the condensation of a visual language contaminated by surrealist solutions, pop proliferations, and archaic symbolism.

Sunshine Cobb, the artist in the show whose work comes out of function believes that by exploring and creating vessels kept within arm’s reach, she can communicate the change and growth in an object’s significance depending on the path of a person’s life. She is interested in how the relationship between function and ornament shift throughout the course of a day/week/year. Through form and surface, her goal is to communicate a sense of home and memory and to evoke that feeling of wanderlust that has informed her own life and visual sensibilities. She relies on texture and color to create a sense of motion and time in her work. Her intent is to instill a sense of age, as found apparent in discarded objects with the aim to infuse feelings of nostalgia in her ceramic objects.

“I am very pleased to bring this new work to Boston. Four of the five artists will be at the opening. Colby Parsons is coming from Texas to set up his digital video projections on the raw clay sculptures—a four day project. Linda Swanson is driving down from Canada where she teaches. Paolo Porelli is arriving from Italy where he lives and works. Josephine Burr, a Massachusetts native is delaying her vacation to be here. I invite the public to come and see this new wave in ceramic art—using clay as the starting point yet going far beyond.”

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August 11, 2013

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