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Exhibition of recent ceramics by Elisa D'Arrigo opens at The Elizabeth Harris Gallery
do look back, 2021, 7 x 6.5 x 5.5 inches.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Elizabeth Harris Gallery is presenting materializing, a show of recent ceramics by Elisa D’Arrigo. In this exhibition, her 11th with the gallery, D’Arrigo continues to explore the possibilities for integrating painting, drawing, improvisational process and animated sculptural form within the context of the glazed ceramic vessel.

materializing refers to D’Arrigo’s spontaneous approach to her pieces. The works begin as variously sized hollow and hand-built cylindrical forms that the artist then manipulates and combines while wet, in a period of intense improvisation.

D’Arrigo’s penchant for intuitive decisions yields forms that seem surprising, yet oddly familiar, as they allude to the body in a gestural and even visceral manner. They exude a figural presence – their hollowness evokes the notion of interiority, and animation from within. The artist has stated that she is compelled by the way we inhabit and imagine our bodies from the inside out, and how abstract form can communicate meaning, emotion and even humor. Unexpected asymmetries merge with densely glazed “surfaces that run with an impossible wealth of color, pattern and texture…Variously nubby and scaly, striated and pocked, the resulting surfaces evoke polished gemstones, luster glass, patterned knits and flesh both tender pink and charred, mineral black.” (excerpted quote from catalogue essay by Nancy Princenthal, accompanying D’Arrigo’s 2019 exhibition “In the Moment”).

In a review that appeared in Hyperallergic (April 21, 2019), when discussing D’Arrigo’s works, John Yau notes: “…these works can be swollen or scrunched, ultimately becoming personifications of vulnerability, clumsiness, and inelegance – all the aspects of our body and behavior that call attention to our fallibilities. I think D’Arrigo’s preternatural ability to invade that side of our consciousness – the one that is fearful of the gaze of others – imbues her pieces with their unaccountable presence.”

A majority of the pieces were made during the Covid-19 lockdown. Intermittent access to a kiln required that the artist transport fragile unfired works or raw glazed pieces by hand across town, sometimes on foot. She also adjusted her glazing methods, doing much preliminary glazing before the works were ever fired. Many of these works convey either a feeling of self-containment, or a twisting, wriggling attempt to re-position, echoing collectively experienced psychological responses to a deeply unsettling time.

D’Arrigo’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, The Mead Art Museum, The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, The Mint Museum of Art and Design and The Weatherspoon Art Museum. Reviews of her work have appeared in several publications including Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Art in America, ArtNews, Sculpture, Partisan Review, ArtPapers, and The New York Observer.

Her works can also be seen in “Shapes From Out Of Nowhere: Ceramics From The Collection Of Robert A. Ellison Jr.” currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through August 2021). There is an accompanying book of the same title, with essays by Robert A. Ellison Jr. and Glenn Adamson.

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