The Mapping of American History: "Points of Origin" at C24 Gallery


C24 Gallery - Chelsea, NYC 
560 W 24th Street 
New York, NY 10011

To the left, right, horizon, and periphery, fifty conical ceramic masks of various proportions are plotted throughout the gallery, echoing an ominous air. The staccato-sharp masks, coated with buzzing blues and adorned with pointillist protrusions, are animated with disconcerting expressions, interlocking and confronting viewers with their cryptic and unwavering gaze. Taking a reticent step closer, the contours of masonite prayer fans and plotter ink drawings featuring symbolic and figurative imagery emerge—anchoring the abstracted hoods with narratives personal to the artist, Tammie Rubin.

Originating from multiple axes to create a nexus of works revolving around the common theme of faith, Points of Origin, C24 Gallery’s latest exhibition, serves as a documentation of Rubin’s extensive historical research, a celebration of her master craftsmanship, and an intimate glimpse into her lineage. Although the ensemble of pieces possess contrasting formal qualities and viewpoints, David Terry, the director of the gallery and curator of the show, explains:

“When you think of the point of origin, and where you come from, that could be from many places. [Rubin’s] work and this body of work come from many different areas of her life, African American culture, American culture, women in her family, and the threads that make up the fabric of the country.


So when she was bringing [the pieces] out, I got really excited because they’re all from the same context, but she's exploring different media. And I love it when artists carry the same theme through but realize and recognize it through different forms, communicating at many levels to many different people.”

Creating a metaphysical altar and paying homage to her family and the Black American experience, the varying vantages harmonize in spiritual unison with their shared explorations of The Great Migration and Reconstruction—subjects Rubin hadn’t considered in her practice until she migrated to Texas in 2015. She elaborates:

“It was specifically about this idea of moving to Austin. You know, I moved here for a job, and that's when I started to think about my parents in a historical context. I'm taking from my family stories and then expanding that into larger research about other Black families that have had this experience and whose stories haven't been told. I’m reflecting on conversations about Black Americans having their history not being represented in our world.”

In fact, according to author Isabel Wilkerson, The Great Migration—a period from roughly 1910 to 1970 when six million African Americans mass relocated from the Jim Crow South to the North—was “the greatest and biggest underreported story in the 20th century.”

Always & Forever (forever, ever) No.14 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery

As the descendant of parents who migrated and met in Chicago (mother from southern Mississippi and father from Memphis, Tennessee), Rubin unveils their neglected history and memorializes her family and Black families alike in an archival collection.

Always & Forever (forever, ever), Drift No.2 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery
Always & Forever (forever, ever), No.24 - Photo by Daniel Krieger, courtesy of C24 Gallery

A clan of three ceramic hoods with pigmented Delphinium and Vivid Blue skin and scars of Radiant Red stand on a floating shelf by the entrance. The central figure, with a leveled head resembling a motherboard, represents a map of Chicago. Similar patterns of cities and migratory paths are also present on other masks in her Always & Forever (forever, ever) series.

On the right of the No.17 tribe, a funnel-shaped form with sgraffito rain strokes, dots, and beaded relief creates a sensational feast for the visual cortex. Although the mask isn’t directly portraying routes, the dynamic movement metaphorically alludes to migration as the pulsating red synchronizes and dances with the blue.

The particularly pointy, slanted hood has a more regal personality. Embellished with an obscured badge, a symbol originating from the Medieval Period, the hood contemplates power, principally within the context of law enforcement. Laced with Medieval and magical influences, the masks may appear solely, or most familiarly, to reference the Ku Klux Klan, but they also attribute to Knight and Shaman helmets, dunce caps, and wizards.

Rubin builds sizable, totemic red stoneware forms as seen in her Unknown Ritual Mask series and practices slip-casting smaller everyday objects—cones, funnels, food containers, and vintage lighting—reconfiguring them into non-functional headdresses. After making a mold, she speedily scratches, carves, punctures, and pipes beading onto the surface as they quickly dry.

“I think of all the mark-making that is repetitious as black bodies moving through space and time, so I’m physically marking that onto the surface of the ceramic forms. […] I’m interested in how to suffuse the form with another point of visual communication through the surface itself.”

Rubin then paints the pigmented porcelains, with sumptuous lines, shapes, and stencils. Some cones resemble Abstract Expressionist and contemporary paintings, others African beadwork, Aboriginal mark-making, and ornamental designs.

The exhibition is filled with a profusion of symbols. The plotter ink drawings portray hagiographical portraits of her grandmother, mother, and aunts all adorned with turnip, mustard, and collard green halos—food staples prominent in Rubin's upbringing. Masonite fans, framing the ceramic cones, are symbolic references to the prayer fans that were predominantly present in black churches and funeral homes to keep the congregation cool. Marked with text, figures, floral, dotted, and migratory patterns, the iconographical fans provide a window into the past and become profound relics that take on resonance and emanate the power of faith.

Rubin’s cerebral and complex perspectives are captured in Points of Origin, a transcendental exhibition visually and conceptually mapping and highlighting one of the most significant and overlooked demographic shifting events that will forever change the structure, history, and future of the United States of America. She emphasizes, “Black history is not separate from American history. These are Americans.” The diverse array of works converges into a singular point of origin, commemorating and celebrating the contributions and stories of Rubin and Black families who’ve built the foundation of the country.

“There is no American culture without black American culture. You can't say, well, they did it. We did it. We did it together.”

- Jacob Lawrence


Visit C24 Gallery at 560 W 24th Street New York, NY 10011, or explore and learn more about the exhibition "Points of Origin" and Tammie Rubin's works online at C24 GALLERY

48 Hours in Çanakkale, Turkey


To see all the destinations listed in this guide and other ceramic sites worldwide, check out Ceramic World Destinations (CWD), MoCA/NY's interactive map listing over 4,000 destinations!


Interior of Mirrored Bazaar: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

A BRIEF OVERVIEW: Çanakkale, Turkey

Located in the northwest of Turkey, Çanakkale is renowned as a stunning coastal town, distinguished among the many ceramic-rich towns in the country. Today, the city proudly preserves its vibrant ceramic heritage and historical legacy. Often referred to as the 'Potter's City,' Çanakkale embodies its rich past while embracing its present charm.

Çanakkale was originally an Ottoman fortress named Kale-i Sultaniye, meaning Fortress of the Sultan. Over time, it became renowned for its pottery, hence the later name 'Çanak Kalesi,' which translates to 'pottery fortress' from the words 'çanak' for ceramic bowl and 'kale' for fortress. From the late 17th century until about the first quarter of the 20th century, Çanakkale was a prominent center for ceramics production, creating works known for their distinctive forms and originality.

Situated on the Dardanelles Strait, one of the main water passages connecting the Aegean and Black Seas and separating the Asian and European sides, the city boasts a rich history and culture. It holds significance as the nearest major town to the ancient site of Troy.

Since ancient times, owing to the availability of suitable clays for pottery-making in its region, Çanakkale has emerged as one of the most important centres for ceramic production, both nationally and internationally, particularly in terms of exportation overseas. Ceramics originating from Çanakkale have brought considerable innovation to Anatolian Turkish ceramic art due to their distinctive styles, compositions, colours, and designs.

Çanakkale ceramics is a folk art that stands out with its simplicity, contrary to Iznik or Kütahya ceramics decorated with flamboyant patterns made for the palace. Animal figurines are a category of late Canakkale ceramics which are very popular among collectors. Horses, lions, and camels (standing or sitting), and fantastic birds, decorated with rosettes and painted with various colours, are offered as souvenirs to the sailors and travelers of the countless ships passing through Canakkale.

Designs are painted in purplish brown, orange, yellow, dark blue, and white under green, brown, oxide-yellow, and colorless glazes. Dishes are decorated with galleons, mortars, mosques, and dwellings as well as animal figures such as fish and birds. 

WHERE TO STAY

In this charming town, you will find various accommodation options according to your preferences. It is easy to find a comfortable place to stay in hotels or B&Bs on both sides of Çanakkale (Asian and European sides) that welcome guests with their cozy atmospheres. The most exclusive accommodation venues, such as Truva Hotel, Akol Hotel, Limani Hotel, Foreigners Hotel, and Kervansaray Hotel, located in the city center, will make you feel at home.

TIP: check this website for various accommodation options.

Canakkale view - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

TRANSPORATION

Due to the small size of the city centre, you may not need to use transportation to visit the ceramic shops as most places are easily accessible on foot. However, if your accommodation is located far from the city center, you can take advantage of the public buses or rent smart scooters or bicycles provided by the municipal services.


DAY 1

Museum, Studios, and Sunsets by the Sea

Çanakkale Ceramic Museum - photo courtesy: Emre Erdoğan
Çanakkale Ceramic Museum interior - photo courtesy: Emre Erdoğan

10:00 AM – Çanakkale Ceramic Museum: 

The Çanakkale Ceramic Museum building was purchased by the Çanakkale Municipality from the Turkish Naval Force. This historical building, once a military bath, underwent restoration in 2013 through the municipality's long-standing efforts, transforming it into a ceramic museum showcasing prominent examples of traditional Çanakkale ceramics.

Within the museum, selected pieces from various collections are displayed, both temporarily and permanently, and the museum's studio produces replicas of original ceramics. Enthusiasts can visit and witness Çanakkale ceramics here, which not only reflects the taste of specific periods but also attract attention through their ethnographic diversity, quality, and creativity.

You can also view temporary exhibitions on the upper floor of the museum, and in the souvenir section on the lower floor, you have the opportunity to purchase commemorative ceramic products to take with you.

Finally, end the tour by spending some time in the garden venue, filled with the smell of history, which will make it an unforgettable experience.

  • The museum is open every day except Mondays, with free admission.

11:00 AM – Ergun Arda’s studio (Baba Ceramic Studio): 

At the Studio BABA, located next to the Çanakkale Ceramic Museum, you can witness Ergün ARDA's modern interpretations of traditional Çanakkale ceramics. Additionally, you can engage in enlightening conversations about ceramics and art with Mr./Dr. Arda, who serves as an academic lecturer at the city university.

Plate by Baba Studio - photo courtesy: Baba Studio
Ergun Arda by Baba Studio- photo courtesy: Baba Studio
Baba-Studio
Baba Studio - photo courtesy: Baba Studio

12:00 PM – Burak CIFTCI Studio (Canakci Ceramic Studio)

You'll transport through time when you explore the traditional ceramics produced by Burak Çiftçi at his workshop just ahead of the city centre. Mr. Çiftçi, a ceramic artist and potter from Çanakkale, demonstrates great mastery in creating replicas of traditional ceramics, a skill he has specialized for years.

His pottery mirrors traditional ceramics in form, color, decoration, and texture, earning a place in the collections of many enthusiasts.

1:00 PM – Golf Family Tea Garden and Relax with a View of Dardanelles:

After your first day of touring ceramics, you can unwind by the sea. As you reach the seaside in the northern part of the city, you'll find a family-friendly spot to have some drinks. In this beautiful place, you can enjoy the view of the Dardanelles while sipping on Turkish coffee or tea.

6:00 PM – Gergedan Bar and Sunset

The sunsets in the westernmost part of Turkey, are undoubtedly indescribable. From the rooftop of Gergedan Bar, you can sip your drink and relieve the tiredness of the day.


7:30 PM – Limani Restaurant:

For those who prefer a quieter dining experience, have dinner at the Limani Restuarant which offers a variety. This place is located by the seaside, near Gestas Dock, and also features a hotel on the upper floor, making it a viable option for accommodation as well. 


DAY 2

Gallery, Museum, and a Ferry Ride to Kilitbahir Castel

10:00 am – Çanakkale Art Gallery:

You can start your second day from the Çanakkale Art Gallery, which is often referred to as Madame Kety's mansion. Facing the Canakkale Strait, the gallery, managed by the City Cultural Directorate of Canakkale, hosts periodic exhibitions throughout the year. This historical venue not only accommodates various art events but also showcases works by local and foreign ceramic artists. 

11:00 AM – Çanakkale City Museum and Archive

At the corner of Fetvane Street merging into Carsi Street, opposite Yali Mosque, you’ll see Çanakkale City Museum and Archive which opened its doors to visitors in 2009. The ground floor of this two-story building hosts temporary exhibitions, typically changing every two months.

The first floor comprises two interlocking sections. In the initial section, information boards detail Çanakkale's Ancient Periods, the Ottoman Period, and the First World War. This section also displays donated objects from the Çanakkale War in compartments along the wall. The second section serves as the primary exhibition space, featuring informational boards with texts and visuals covering various aspects of the city.

On the second floor, visitors can access the city archive and library, and see their collection of Çanakkale ceramics. For those eager to delve into the history of Çanakkale city, this museum offers a wonderful exploration.

  • The museum is open every day except Mondays, with free admission.

1:00 PM – Kilitbahir Tour and Kilitbahir Castel

This charming village, steeped in tourism and history, is easily accessible via a ferry ride from the city center, offering the experience of seeing Çanakkale from the European side. Known as the 'Lock of the Sea,' this village marks one of the intersection points between Europe and Asia. Here stands the sole remaining castle, located at the heart of the city.

These castles, constructed during the Ottoman period by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, hold significant military and strategic importance. Today, this location serves as an attractive travel destination, inviting tourists to breathe in the scent of history.

On this tour, you'll have the opportunity to explore the castle's interiors and exteriors and take a short tour around the hills of Kilitbahir village, where small ceramic selling points await your visit.

Also, enjoy a unique street delicacy, fish bread, as your lunch in Kilitbahir village.

  • Kilitbahir Castel is open every day except Mondays, with an entrance fee.
  • Click here to view Gestas ferry round trip schedule

7:00 PM – Dinner at Yalova Restaurant

As you return to the Canakkale city centre, prepare yourself for an evening feast. Indulge in the exquisite dining experience at Yalova restaurant, an incredible culinary destination in Canakkale known for its gourmet delicacies and seafood. You can also enjoy a seaside view if you prefer a table outside. The restaurant is located close to the ferry dock, along the city's southern coastline.


Day 3

A Visit to Cimenlik Castel, Ceramic Studios, and a Bazaar

10:00 am – Cimenlik Castel and Naval Museum Tour

Enjoy your morning exploring Cimenlik Castle and the Naval Museum located on the Canakkale side of the castles. This castle was ordered to be constructed by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452. It now operates as a small military museum featuring exhibits on the Gallipoli battles and some war relics.

Sakirs Place - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

12:00 PM – Sakir’s Place (Sakir’in Yeri) and a view of the Dardanelles

Sakir’s Place holds nostalgic value for anyone who spent their childhood in Çanakkale. It's the perfect spot to enjoy freshly brewed Turkish tea while observing the ships sailing in and out of the Dardanelles.

1:00 pm – Lunch at Dardanelle -  I Love Fish

Surrounding the historic clock tower square, you'll discover a great selection of dining and drinking options. Among them is 'I Love Fish,' located directly across from the tower. 'I Love Fish' is an initiative by Dardanel, one of Turkey's most important canned food and seafood companies. Here, you can choose from a diverse menu, ranging from seafood fast food to sushi, and experience the love of fish.

photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

2:30 pm – Ceramists’ Street visit

Prepare for an intergenerational experience as you witness the tradition of establishing ateliers next to the castle, a practice dating back to the Ottoman period, which continues to thrive today. Many workshops in the Fevzipasa District welcome ceramic enthusiasts, continuing their production and offerings. Here are some notable examples:


Adem Yavuz: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

4 PM: GAK (Adem YAVUZ)

Adem Yavuz, known for producing some of the most original ceramics in the city, has infused pop art elements into his creations. His postmodern ceramics feature a combination of life mottos and depictions from our surroundings, hand-drawn by Yavuz and transferred onto the ceramics.

We guarantee that sipping coffee from one of these cups will bring a smile to your face. You can also commission Yavuz to engrave personalized expressions onto his ceramics.

GAK studio - photo courtesy: Gak Studio
GAK Studio - photo courtesy: Gak Studio
GAK Studio - photo courtesy: Gak Studio

Ilter Ozyildirim: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

5:00 PM: Muddy Sweet Ceramics

The workshop owned by Ilter and Burcu Ozyildirim, two prominent ceramicists in Çanakkale, produces ceramics that push the boundaries of creativity. Their workshop features a wide array of fun figurines alongside iconized products. Offering pleasure, fun, and childlike excitement together, the Ozyildirim couple also organizes workshops for those interested.

Muddy Street Studio - photo courtesy: Muddy Street Studio

5:30 PM – Aynali Carsi (Mirrored Baazar)

This covered 'bedesten,' which has been the subject of local songs of Canakkale, stands as a significant icon of the city. Formerly known as Canakcilar Pazari (Potters' Market), it resembles a miniature version of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. Today, it's said that only the entrance gate of the Mirrored Bazaar, situated on Carsi Street in the heart of Canakkale, remains in its original state. Following restoration by the Canakkale Municipality, this bazaar has gained further popularity.

Interior of Mirrored Bazaar: Yeliz Saydan

Here,  you can discover a wide array of spices, local products, and an extensive range of rich souvenir options. Enjoy the tradesmen's conversations in the bazaar, where you will spend time visiting small workshops and ceramic sales points.

Apart from a few boutique ceramic studios, some shops operate on a wholesale basis. Ceramics such as mugs, pots, magnets, and various products come from different production ateliers around Çanakkale and many nearby towns and provinces. These shops are mostly engaged in artisan trade.


Ayse Kunelgin: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

6:00 pm – Studio visit Ayse Kunelgin (Kepenek Ceramic Studio)

Ayse Kunelgin, a prominent ceramicist in Canakkale, has run her workshop at the entrance of Yali Inn for over twenty years. This significant workshop, the product of long effort and patience, is one of the pioneering establishments among the new generation of artists in Canakkale.

Kepenek Studio - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

You'll find symbols of the city—cats, horses, birds, and various herbal forms—created as decorative trinkets.

Kepenek Ceramics: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

6:30 pm – Yali Hani or Han Kahvesi (Yali Inn)

Since 1889, this historical venue, also known as the passenger inn of Canakkale, has welcomed travelers for centuries. Notably, it stands as Turkey's only double-covered inn, featuring front and back doors, making it a cherished social hub in the city. Nowadays, it is a meeting point where people of all ages, especially youngsters, are regulars.

Aside from the Han Coffee House, which offers cold and hot beverages, Yali Inn boasts bars, ateliers, and boutique shops, creating a delightful and cozy atmosphere where intellectual activities often take place. Even if you choose to sit alone, you'll soon find yourself engaging in social interactions, and who knows how many people you will meet to make lasting friendships.

Yali Inn - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan
Yali Inn back entrence: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

8:00 pm – Dinner at Mor Salkim Meyhanesi and Fun Times at Barlar Sokagi

On your final evening in Çanakkale, indulge in traditional Turkish appetizers (meze) and salads while savoring Turkish raki at Mor Salkim Meyhanesi. Located on Bar Street, the city's liveliest street, this restaurant offers a pleasant dining experience. Following dinner, enjoy the colorful world of Bar Street.


DAY 4

Excursions to Significant Sites

9:00 am – Troia Ancient Side

To reach the museum, located 30 km away from the town, aside from renting a car, you can opt for public minibusses. The minibusses to Troia depart from the shelter station, providing services every half hour, and will take you directly to the Troia Ancient Site in Tevfikiye village. From here, you can first start your tour by visiting Troia Ancient City, then explore the Troia Museum.

The Ancient City of Troia, renowned as the battleground of the Trojan War mentioned in Homer's Iliad, was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. Dating back to 3000 BC, it stands as one of the world's most famous archaeological sites. Ongoing excavations since 1871 have revealed the city's history of construction and destruction across numerous layers. These excavations unearthed forty-two building layers and nine city layers, unveiling a theater, baths, various artifacts, an advanced sewage system, and building foundations. Today, archaeological efforts continue under Canakkale 18 Mart University. The Troia Museum houses some of the most remarkable discoveries from these excavations, offering visitors the chance to witness these outstanding examples firsthand.

Troia Museum outer view - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

11:00 AM – Troia Museum

Opened in 2018 to visitors, the museum building is located at the entrance of the Ancient City of Troy in Tevfikiye Village, operating as a unit of the Canakkale Museum Directorate. The construction of the Troy Museum began in 2013 following the National Architectural Project Competition with Free Participation and Single Stage.

At the Troy Museum, visitors delve into the life, cultures, and archaeological history of Troy, which left its marks on the Troas Region and is renowned for Homer's Iliad Epic. This narrative unfolds through artifacts from the excavations.

While visiting the museum, visitors follow a story divided into seven sections: Archaeology of Troad Region, Bronze Age of Troy, Iliad Epic and Troian War, Troas, and Ilion in Antiquity, Eastern Roman and Ottoman Period, History of Archaeology, Traces of Troy. Enjoy seeing the antique ceramics excavated from each layer.

Troia Museum interior view: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan
Troia Museum interior view - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan
Troia Museum ceramic foundings - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan
Troia Museum ceramic foundings - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

12:30 PM – Tevfikiye Archeo-Village

Tevfikiye, one of the villages in the centre of Canakkale, is known for its villagers who have been supporting the excavations since the time of Schliemann. For this reason, an archeo-village project was designed to give the village a touristic identity. In this project, a story was created within the village based on three main components of Troia. They aim to create a sustainable creative interaction ground between Çanakkale city centre and Troia, Tevfikiye Archeo-Village, and to highlight Tevfikiye Archeo-Village as a living cultural area which is identified with Troia in the national and international arena.

Tevfikiye Archeo Village - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

2:30 PM –  After the Troy tour, you have two options to consider for the last day:

1. Assos

Assos Athena Temple - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

Enter the world that is the Anatolian equivalent of the Antique Greek period. Founded by the Ancient Greeks around the 7th century BC, the city of Assos is crowned with an impressive temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena. Although the temple has limited remnants, it stands as the sole Doric example in the Anatolian region.

Among the sights to explore in Assos are the remarkable ancient city walls, a Hellenic city gateway with two massive towers, a Roman theater, a gymnasium, an agora, and the necropolis (cemetery).

Assos - Behramkale - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

The town also features structures from other periods, including an Ottoman-era mosque and fortress dating back to the 14th century. Excavations at the archaeological site are carried out in cooperation with Canakkale 18 Mart University and the American Institute.

Wandering through the narrow streets of the village, you’ll lose yourself in the historical ambiance, encountering various art galleries, ceramic and glass studios, and souvenir shops.

Assos local shop: photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

After taking a walk on the Aristotle Road, you can climb to the temple of Athena to salute the sun and complete the day. During the summer season, don’t forget to swim in the beautiful bays and dive into the azure blues.

  • To reach Assos by car from the Canakkale-Izmir Road, follow the signs south to Ayvacik and then proceed along the scenic road leading to Assos/Behramkale.
Assos Ancient Harbor - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

2. Bozcaada

Bozcaada Castel - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

This triangular-shaped island, measuring approximately 5-6 km on each side, lies 5 km from the Turkish mainland. Accessible by ferry from Geyikli district dock, the tiny island welcomes visitors with its castle amidst the deep blue waters.

Known as Tenedos in Greek, Bozcaada is a small Aegean Island, considered the more charming of the two islands in Canakkale. It has a different climate from its surroundings, a clean sea, and a unique lifestyle.

The famous Greek poet Homeros once said, 'God created Bozcaada so that people would live long.'

According to mythology, Poseidon's grandson Tenes was thrown into the sea in a wooden chest and washed ashore at  Leucophrye. Climbing the island slopes, Tenes settled there and cultivated grapes from wild vines, making viticulture and wine production the symbols of Tenedos for over 3000 years.

Bozcaada city - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

Bozcaada's population has undergone frequent changes due to invasions, migrations, and wars throughout history. After the 1500s, under Ottoman rule, Turks and Greeks fostered a rich common culture. However, starting in the 1960s with the forced migration of the Greek population, viticulture and wine production disintegrated. In the last decade, many efforts have been made to revitalize this old local culture.

Additionally, the island is focused on handicraft production and has become a thriving tourist destination, attracting the interest of both local and foreign visitors. Besides numerous ceramic workshops, art galleries exhibit contemporary artworks. 

Bozcaada view - photo courtesy: Yeliz Saydan

The island, which becomes quite crowded, especially in summer, is invaded by tourists. For this reason, it is necessary to make reservations in advance for accommodation and restaurants.

Don't forget to swim in the crystal-clear waters of Ayazma Beach before leaving the island. If possible, consider taking a boat trip to explore all the bays.

7:30 pm – Dinner and Accommodation

In both districts (Assos or Bozcaada), dinner promises to be spectacular, offering seasonal fish caught by local fishermen, and delightful salads and appetizers. As you can see, in almost every region of Canakkale, seafood is an anticipant and distinguished part of the city's cuisine. 

For accommodation, you can comfortably stay in hotels that have been transformed from the unique structures within these beautiful historical and touristic districts.


To explore our extensive listings of galleries, museums, design stores, and other destinations in Turkey, go to the CERAMIC WORLD DESTINATION MAP!


CONTRIBUTOR

Yeliz Saydan graduated with bachelor's and master’s degrees from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University at the Ceramics Department. She gained experiences in the fields of culture and arts and participated in EU projects. In particular, she has been conducting research on destinations of ceramic cities. She also took part in an internship program at the Italian Association of Cities of Ceramics, collaborating with Canakkale Municipality to specialize in the subject. Currently studying at the Art and Design Department of Izmir Dokuz Eylul University as a Proficiency in Art student. She carries out her art works and research in Canakkale.

Yeliz Saydan's Blog


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Exploring Identity and Cultural Dichotomies with Brendan Lee Satish Tang at C24 Gallery


C24 Gallery - Chelsea, NYC 560 W 24th Street 
New York, NY 10011

On a suspiciously quiet Thursday evening near the Chelsea piers, the streets are bathed in fading sunlight, the day prematurely surrendering to dusk. The crowd of gallery goers looking for visual stimulation, networking prospects, or free drinks has yet to proliferate, and amidst this quietude stands C24 Gallery, a beacon with its luminous lights casting an alluring glow through the window and onto the sidewalk. A veritable unopened treasure chest awaiting discovery.

The gallery is a reliquarium, a sacred box showcasing Ming Dynasty vessels that have been penetrated by and entwined with anime-inspired robots and gilded ormolu.

Adorning the walls and encircling these mutated cyborg vessels, are expansive, bulletproof stretched kevlar sculptural paintings, stained by steel rust and varnished with a luminous patina.

Albeit stylistically distinct—abstract vs. representational and muted color palette vs. an explosion of hues—the contrasting aesthetics of Brendan Lee Satish Tang and Coby Kennedy’s works meld beautifully in the space. Non-competing and complimenting, the industrial features and the matte and glossy surfaces of both artists’ work harmonize to present Cultured, a duo show on view until December 23rd.

installation view of "Cultured" - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

C24 Gallery describes Cultured as “refined, cultivated, nurtured, artificially grown, or synthesized.” When asked about the exhibition’s title in connection to the works on display, David Terry, the director and curator of the gallery, explains how the artists’ underlying processes align and how the concept and content behind them are parallel: 

“The two artists are deep within their analysis of their own culture, personally and within a historical context with Brendan being inspired by the Ming Dynasty and Coby exploring the African-American diaspora.” 

With their post-colonial explorations of race, identity, and heritage, Cultured showcases the multiplex manifestations and individualistic interpretations of socio-cultural issues experienced collectively.

Manga Ormolu

Manga Ormolu 4.0-aa, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 22 x 10 x 10.5 in. (55.9 x 25.4 x 26.7 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

For over two decades, Brendan Lee Satish Tang (he/they) has been working on their series entitled Manga Ormolu—a fusion of distinctly Asian aesthetics accented with European filigree. 

A cobalt blue landscape, dragons, fish, florals, and warriors are painted with precision on the ‘porcelain’ facades—imagery referencing the style of vessels from the 18th-century Ming Dynasty, a prosperous period of economic and cultural expansion in China. 

Agglutinated and burgeoning onto the melting Chinese relics are Japanese robotic features that have spored and taken control over the vessels—a sci-fi parasite. The glossy cyborg mutants are inspired by Tang’s longstanding love of Mecha: “a genre of Japanese manga and anime that heavily features or focuses on mechanical innovation. Robots, cyborgs, androids, and space stations, for example, all fall under the wide umbrella of mecha; however, robots are usually the primary focus” (NYPL).

Tang’s infatuation with science fiction and utopia began as a child, which coincides with when mecha grew to peak popularity in the West. They were engrossed in playing video games, reading manga, and watching shows like Transformers, Astro Boy, and Star Trek.

Manga Ormolu 5.0-aa, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 23 x 12 x 13 in. (58.4 x 30.5 x 33 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

Unsurprisingly, those formal and conceptual themes became parents to their visual language and permeated into their practice—bringing the fictional robots into the physical realm.

Although the Chinese vessels and Japanese cyborgs come from the same continent, that is their only shared variable. The traditional vessels are monochrome, soft, fleshy, and matte, with a crackled glaze, and delicate brushstrokes with value. Meanwhile, the futuristic, graphic robotic parts are hard and manufactured, glossy, and engineered.

The contrasting evocations of the past colliding with the future evoke nostalgia and hope—or detachment and fear—depending on the person and how they view the flourishing omnipresence of technology.

Concerning the geopolitical relationship between Japan and China, Tang explains how this wasn’t initially a forefront concern, however, they became aware of the contentious history between the two nations when they had an exhibition in Richmond, Vancouver.

“It was really interesting to have that experience because there were a lot of people from mainland China that live in Richmond and when they came to the show, they saw [the Manga Ormolu pieces] as an affront and it was like almost an insult onto the historical vessels and that sort of thing. As, you know, we always think of a colonial agenda within a Western context, but it was a colonial agenda within a Japanese context as well. And so there was a weird form of telephone game where it's like I'm unpacking my 'Asianess' through the West unpacking 'Asianess'.”

As a Chinese, South Asian Canadian who was born in Dublin, Ireland, Brendan has always lived within a Western landscape and felt disconnected from their heritage as they assimilated, negotiated, and suppressed their “Asianess” to steer Western spaces. When they discovered the ormolu—the 18th-century French and German aristocratic practice of embellishing pre-existing, often foreign or “exotic” objects—they saw themselves reflected in the gilded Chinese porcelain.

Manga Ormolu 4.0-bb, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 23 x 10 x 11 in. (58.4 x 25.4 x 27.9 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery
Manga Ormolu 2.0-t, 2023, Ceramic and mixed media, 20 x 14 x 13in. (50.8 x 35.6 x 33cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

“I was excited by what I was seeing kind of in a way of seeing myself in the work where I am very much an Asian identity but I have all this Western filigree all over me. I am the Ming Vessel with the gold filigree and the strange architecture and stuff like that. But then I started seeing things where they started making these elaborate pieces with Buddha and put all these things that have no business being together. I felt a bit revolted, but also equally fascinated.”

Unearthing these appropriated, fetishized, and Westernized Asian relics became the genesis of their Manga Ormolu series and an outlet to explore their identity. Akin to Asian fusion restaurants, where spices and ingredients are modified to become more accessible and digestible, the cyborg vessels appear Asian whilst garnished with European flavors to suit the Western taste. 

These sculptures are a self-portrait of Brendan, they humorously scrutinize and satirize the Western lens and cultural appropriation, whilst simultaneously confronting their self-inflicted discrimination. No longer, are they molding and denigrating themselves to accommodate and please others, however, their people-pleasing tendencies have sublimated and materialized in their craftsmanship.

work in progress of Manga Ormolu 4.0-bb, 2023 - photo courtesy: Brendan Lee Satish Tang

“I am a chronic pleaser,” they state whilst chuckling, “I go to ridiculous lengths to make [my work] seem so seamless.” 

Tang is unquestionably skilled and perfectionistic, with a meticulously torturous yet satisfying process. It begins with sketching, measuring, and drafting the sculpture’s foundation. Subsequently, they throw a vase, base, and ‘shot glasses’ (trimmed and attached to the sides of the form) on the wheel, then proceed to build the composition by extruding, slab building, hand-building, manipulating, pinching, and sanding. Tang then fastidiously hand-paints traditional Chinese imagery and dresses the piece by airbrushing, glazing, and applying gold luster treatments.

The laboriously constructed sculptures and impeccably glazed surfaces imitate porcelain and metal, despite being made from low-fire earthenware. As an exercise in trompe-l’œil, Tang teases the viewer into thinking the piece is constructed from separate parts using varying materials. They further confuse the viewer by grounding the form on a wooden plinth and adding rubber gaskets, screws, and bolts—some of which are real and others ceramic.

Manga Ormolu 2.0-s, work in progress - photo courtesy: Brendan Lee Satish Tang
Manga Ormolu 2.0-s, 2022, Ceramic and mixed media, 40 x 19 x 15 in. (101.6 x 48.3 x 38.1 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

The result is an intriguing, animated mutation that illustrates Tang's expert understanding and decades-long experience in playing with trompe-l’œil and the interrelationship between reality and fantasy.

Traditional and futuristic, Western and Asian, industrial and fine art, and imperial elitism and commercialism—Tang gifts us with sculptures filled with juxtapositions, complexities, and perplexities. The cyborg vessels invite you to question your heritage (within your ethnic and cultural tribes), your identity (within society), and your existence (in the Digital Age).

Study 8, 2018, Ceramic and mixed media, 6 x 11 x 5.5 in. (15.2 x 27.9 x 14 cm) - photo courtesy: C24 Gallery

Visit C24 Gallery at 560 W 24th Street  New York, NY 10011, or explore and learn more about the exhibition "Cultured" and Brendan Lee Satish Tang's works online at C24 GALLERY

Watch C24 Gallery's artist talk  for their exhibition in 2021 entitled "Earthen Delights" with artists Brendan Lee Satish, Hinrich Kröger, and Steven Montgomery - moderated by MoCA/NY PResident Judith Schwartz. 

A Beloved Collection - Kathy Butterly at James Cohan Gallery

James Cohan Gallery - Tribeca, NYC 
48 WALKER ST
NEW YORK, NY 10013

photo courtesy: James Cohan Gallery

For over three decades, New York-based ceramic artist Kathy Butterly has ventured into the realms of color, form, and the intricacies of ceramics. Her relentless dedication and mastery of clay have solidified her position as a prominent and revered figure in contemporary ceramics. Butterly's remarkable body of work comprises small-scale sculptures characterized by meticulous and whimsical details, evocative colors and compositions, and unparalleled technical expertise.
Recently, Butterly showcased her tenacious commitment to ceramics in an enthralling mini-retrospective titled A Beloved Collection presented by the James Cohan Gallery. Concurrently with the exhibition at their Tribeca location, the gallery also exhibited Butterly’s latest sculptures at the ADAA: The Art Show. Although the exhibitions have concluded, selected works remain available for purchase. View MoCA/NY's President, Judy Schwartz on-site video interview with Kathy Butterly, Elizabeth Harvey Levine, and collector David Kirschenbaum.

A BELOVED COLLECTION, 1994-2022

Works from the private collection of Elizabeth Harvey Levine

Upon entering the viewing room at James Cohan Gallery, visitors are immediately enveloped by a vibrant ensemble of sculptures spanning from 1994 to 2022, offering a comprehensive voyage through the evolution of Kathy Butterly's artistic vision. The thirty-six petite sculptures arranged chronologically, are sourced from the private collection of Elizabeth Harvey Levine, an ardent and longtime patron of Butterly’s work.

The space unfolds with delicately adorned and opulently ornate sculptures positioned on the left side of the gallery—the genesis—and crescendos to Butterly's most recent lively and gestural creations. Despite their demure scale—excluding two exceptions—each sculpture exudes a grand energy, brimming with vitality, distinct personalities, and animated expressions.

“It is a beloved collection because each piece in this magical collection is such a magical gem. They’re infused with her sense of humor, they all have sensuous body folds, they’re meticulously executed, and the details are beyond what people are willing to explore in ceramics.” - Elizabeth Harvey Levine

Humor imbues the exhibition not only in the cheeky and amusing configurations of the sculptures but also in their titles, setting a tone and offering a glimpse into Butterly's intentions and interpretations. For instance, a lemon-yellow glazed figure adorned with oval green forms on its lip and hip emanates refined elegance with polished gold accents, yet it comically bears the title "Nancy Beans," adding a playful twist.

Associating these titles with the sculptures is almost as enjoyable as experiencing the pieces themselves, inviting speculation, contemplation, and insight into Butterly’s mind.

This collection, akin to a personal diary, exemplifies Butterly's artistic innovations in composition, color palette, and treatment of glaze while documenting significant and pivotal periods in both her personal and creative life.

Pointing to a piece named "Knititation," Butterly reminisces, “I was pregnant. [I remember] just the waiting and the knitting." She elaborates further on the show, "It’s my diary, my diary is on display. I knew exactly what I was thinking and what I was doing and each one is very specific to a time period of my life.”

"Knititation" beautifully encapsulates Butterly's earlier works—the lyrical pastel and shocking neon color palette, skin-like folds, intricate line marks, and fine carvings, complemented by a whimsical and playful "pedestal." It vividly showcases her technique of painting with and on clay.

Her painterly treatment of clay can be attributed to her early studies as a painter when she was drawn to ceramics but was reluctant to fully accept the medium as she viewed ceramics as functional pottery ware. It wasn’t until she met Viola Frey, an artist known for her non-functional, figurative, animated ceramic sculptures and painterly expressions, that she embraced ceramics.

Intuitively created, Butterly starts with a ready-made cast, molding it into a functional vessel before sculpting, folding, denting, and smoothing the clay. Subsequently, she applies glazes and subjects the disfigured vessel to multiple firings, often reaching up to 20 to 30 times. The layers of clay and glazes illustrate Butterly’s devotion and profound connection with each piece imbuing them with a unique history and seducing you into a portal awaiting exploration.

Tiny pearlescent beadings, crackling and crystalline glaze textures, sharp and fluid surfaces—the porcelain and earthenware amorphous sculptures gift us with a splendid visual orgasm. They not only serve as pages from Butterly's diary but also as testaments to her exceptional technical skill and artistic aspirations.

With their diminutive scale, the sculptures beckon viewers to draw closer, inviting a magnified appreciation of every minute and intricately carved detail, cultivating an intimate relationship with each piece. They entice, hypnotize, surprise, and inspire a desire to explore and decode their narratives and language—a journey into their portal, into their distinctive universe.

“[Butterly’s sculptures] are irresistible,” Elizabeth Harvey Levine states, “and Kathy, herself, is the most genuine person I know and her pieces are straightforward and honest, complex, fused with humor and that is what Kathy is. They are just an embodiment of her.”


Visit James Cohan Gallery at 48 WALKER ST NEW YORK, NY 10013, or explore and learn more about A Beloved Collection and Kathy Butterly online: James Cohan Gallery

Ceramic Highlights at ADAA - The Art Show 2023

The 35th Annual Edition of the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America) - The Art Show 2023 was held at the Park Avenue Armory, featuring 78 booths in the grand Gothic building. MoCA/NY sent a reporter to this year's fair to highlight ceramic artwork and we're pleased to present a list of seven galleries representing notable and established ceramic artists.

1. David Kordansky Gallery

Betty Woodman (1930 - 2018)

Betty Woodman's mixed media works are on full display at David Kordansky Gallery's booth. Woodman's colorful and playful deconstructed reconstructions showcase her brilliance and expertise in collaging clay, drawings, and paintings. Woodman's inventive forms and pioneering experimentations remind viewers why she was, and still is, considered a leading figure in the ceramic field.

2. James Cohan Gallery

Kathy Butterly

Another remarkable ceramist who uses vibrant colors and painterly expressions is Kathy Butterly whose intricate, ornamental, petite sculptures were on display at the James Cohan Gallery booth. In addition to being featured at The Art Show, Butterly is currently exhibiting at the James Cohan Gallery (Nov 1-11, 2023). Make sure to visit the gallery at 48 Walker Street to see the incredible show spotlighting Butterly's work spanning from 1994 to 2022.

3. Yoshii Gallery

Taizo Kuroda

Yoshii Gallery presents White Porcelain, an installation with works by one of the most important artists in Japanese contemporary ceramics: Taizo Kuroda. The minimalistic and elegant forms "evoke an infinite world beyond the realm of earthly limitations" and illustrate Kuroda's mastery in expressing strength and simplicity.

4. Sperone Westwater Gallery

Bertozzi & Casoni

The Italian team Bertozzi & Casoni, shows new hyperrealistic ceramic sculptures at the Sperone Westwater Gallery booth. Brillo boxes full of trash, decaying eggs, watermelon rinds, and banana peels on plates and in bins contemplate modern-day consumption and waste - a criticism of contemporary consumerism.

5. P·P·O·W Gallery

Ann Agee

P·P·O·W Gallery presented an incredible solo installation of fifteen ceramic figures and two ceramic wall pieces by Ann Agee. Agee's powerful Madonnas of the Girl Child series, subverts the canonical symbol by portraying the child as a female, scrutinizing the propagandistic use of the Madonna and Child motif. She masterfully uses a variety of techniques - incorporating pigment into slabs of stoneware clay, screen printing, spraying, stenciling glazes, and directly painting on the surfaces).

6. Marian Goodman Gallery

Tavares Strachan

Tavares Strachan's new body of ceramic sculptures and paintings from his Galaxy and Galaxy Mandala series were exhibited at the Marian Goodman Gallery booth. Strachan's ceramic vessels with a human head atop illuminate overlooked histories and address themes of identity and belonging.

7. Thomas Colville -Fine Art Gallery

Elie Nadelman

Elie Nadelman's small figurines were present at the Thomas Colville Gallery booth. Although two of the three sculptures by Nadelman are made of polychromed papier-mache, Two Women (the figures on the left of the image) is made of polychrome terracotta.


To explore more New York-based and international galleries representing ceramic artists, visit our CERAMIC WORLD DESTINATIONS MAP!

Don't forget to check out our past coverage of ceramic highlights at the Armory Show 2023: Ceramic Sightings at the Armory.

Portals to Mouros - Tracing Identity with Isaac Scott at Lucy Lacoste Gallery

Isaac Scott’s political mixed-media sculptures are on display at the Lucy Lacoste Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts from September 16 to October 14, 2023. Scott is a Philadelphia-based artist, curator, and photographer, whose provocative ceramics explore the lineage of the Slave Trade, the history of social, cultural, and racial exploitation, and how contemporary people and land carry the wounds of past generations' traumas.
In 2020, during the global pandemic, Scott, working primarily with clay, lost access to his studio and sublimated his artistic energy to taking photographs of his neighborhood in North Philly and the protests and marches on the streets following the death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. 
In 2022, Scott traveled throughout Portugal during an artist residency where he (re)discovered that Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, was the city where the Slave Trade originated. Mouros, the title of his first solo exhibition, responds to his research and reflections on the Slave Trade—manifesting into six powerful stoneware and inkjet-printed Dibond pieces.

“Every now and then one comes across a new artist whose work excites and is worthy of the highest accolades. Realizing the content and the art in this completely new series, I knew I had to do everything possible to bring it to light in the fullest possible way.” - Lucy Lacoste

ILSY JEON (IJ): The inspiration behind your exhibition, Mouros, is rooted in your discovery and research on the Slave Trade and its origins in Lisbon, Portugal dating back to 1455. Can you describe the pivotal moment when you became aware of this history? Also, can you explain why you titled this show Mouros?

ISAAC SCOTT: When I arrived in Lisbon I was drawn to the older parts of the city.  I immediately wanted to know more about the city's history. I learned about the African Lisbon Tour through my friends’ parents. The tour is organized and led by Naky Gaglo. That’s where I first learned about and experienced some of the places that I referenced in the exhibition. 

The show title “Mouros”, translates to Moors in English. The title comes from a few different references. The first was the Moors who occupied the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to ~1249. Next, the people taken from the coast of West Africa who were called “Mouros” by the Portuguese. Lastly, the ancient myth of the Mouros from northern Iberia. This myth sometimes describes Mouros as Giant beings who collected treasures and lived underground.

I see my Mouros series as beings who dwell in different places that I visited on my travels through the country and they collect the stories of Africans who came through those locations throughout history.

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The tragic death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, which you comprehensively documented, occurred just two years before your awareness of the Slave Trade in Portugal. 

Considering the racial tensions in the US, how did it feel to conduct research in a foreign country and recognize that racism is pervasive in all lands? How has your research evolved to highlight your understanding and relationship to your ancestry, identity, and art practice?

ISAAC SCOTT: I’ve known for a long time that racism is pervasive throughout the world. We have seen Western colonization and the damage it has done throughout history. I think I had learned at some point that Portugal was the country to start the slave trade but it was never something that I thought much about until I was actually there. 

One thing that stuck with me during my trip to Portugal, was how comfortable I felt. Here in the US, I feel like my identity, my race is something that is always looming over me. I never felt that way in Portugal. But when I talked to Afro-Portuguese about this, they explained to me how they face many of the same problems around race that we face in the US. And that the reason I felt so comfortable and welcomed in Portugal was because people recognized I was a tourist and they wanted my money. This hadn’t occurred to me because I’m used to people following me around stores because they assume I will steal something.

This made me think more about power dynamics here in the US around race. We in the black community are constantly reminded how we are not valued or appreciated for our essential contributions to the founding, growth, and success of this country. 

Through my research, I found how the catholic church played such a major role in the start of the slave trade. It made me think of the parallels between protestant Christians in the US and how they used scripture to justify their use and dehumanization of African slaves in a “free” country. I also thought of how in both Portugal and the US, Africans used the church to free themselves and fight for their rights as human beings. 

There is a bitter irony to the fact that the Africans who had their freedom, religion, and culture stripped from them by Christians, behave more like Christ than the Christians themselves.

I think about my own relationship with spirituality a lot. I grew up in a very religious household and was even confirmed Catholic. I’m not religious anymore but I do still feel a longing for some kind of spiritual practice that makes sense to me. 

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: Your sculptures evidence extensive research about the Slave Trade and the history of the Moors during the Middle Ages. The photos you’ve taken are sites in Portugal that symbolically refer to the history of this region and the ceramic portraits beautifully respond to these images. Can you elaborate on your experience walking around Lisbon, conducting research, documenting, and taking photographs? How did you come to the decision to select the six photographs that are on display in relation to these particular busts?

ISAAC SCOTT: I was immediately in awe of the city. The ornate architecture, tiled walls and streets, the massive monuments, and marble sculptures all made for great photos. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would use the photos. I always have my camera on me when I travel, so taking photos as part of a sculpture or installation wasn’t my first intent. As I came up with my ideas around the Mouros heads and the narrative behind them, I felt that I should use the images to give more context to these locations. I felt the images and stories I made the work around were the ones I felt the most connection to personally.

Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The ceramic heads depicting Black faces each have a distinct personality and characteristics that respond to their corresponding images. What was your approach and process for creating these ceramic portraits?  Who are these people that you are paying homage to?

ISAAC SCOTT: I wanted to make portraits that fit the mood and energy of the stories connected to each piece. Some of them are more specific than others. The “Igreja de São Domingos“ piece has an expression of the figure singing. This comes from my connection of Black Spirituality to music as well as the hymns and chants that take place in a catholic mass. The expression of the “Mouro do Graffiti” speaks to the bravado and confidence in oneself that is celebrated in Hip Hop Culture. 

I don’t see these sculptures as depicting anyone in particular.

IJ: Following up on the previous question: how has your research about the African diaspora and Hip-Hop culture influenced the formal and conceptual aspects and features of these ceramic forms?

ISAAC SCOTT: Something that I have focused on capturing in my work is the idea of resiliency. In both the Mouros series and past work around Philly, I have often used these motifs of decaying architecture paired with reference to monuments and vibrant colors.

I enjoy the duality in a form that is both broken yet exhibits strength and beauty. 

In Hip Hop culture there is the idea of “making something from nothing” or creating value out of the scraps we find around us. I think the work I make is often a response to my own questions about having hope for the future. I see what many of my ancestors had to go through and how we got here. I think those stories give me hope for our generation to figure out the challenges in front of us.

Igreja de São Domingos, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 18.5h x 10.25w x 10.75d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in
Mouro do Graffiti, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware with Gold Luster, 17.75h x 9.25w x 9.75d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in

IJ: The way you’ve combined ceramic and photography is refreshing and avant-garde and is the perfect amalgamation of the two mediums you use to express your creativity. How did you come to the decision to integrate both mediums in this series and how did losing your studio during the pandemic act as an impetus to take up photography? Since returning to ceramics, after a few years of hiatus, how has your relationship with clay evolved?

ISAAC SCOTT: The photos in this series were important to add context to the heads I was making. They act as portals that bring the viewer to the exact place where these Mouros dwell. They also create halos around the heads, further pointing to the theme of Christian symbolism that runs through the show. 

When I lost access to my studio during the pandemic I was taking a photography class so I ended up turning to photography as my source for creativity. It really got me out of the house and kept me sane during that time. Then when the BLM protests started I really got more serious about documenting what was happening around me.  

Coming back to clay, I feel what happened in that summer of protests changed how I interact with the clay more than anything. The things I captured in the protests and the energy in those moments I began to express through the clay. Bringing both mediums together in different ways is exciting and gives me more options to bring my ideas to life.

Work by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
Photograph by Isaac Scott
IJ: The art world has shifted dramatically in the last few years where history is being re-evaluated and re-visited from a post-colonial lens. Despite ceramics being globally practiced by all genders and races for centuries, you’ve noted how in the US, the ceramic field is a White space that is inaccessible to Black, Brown, and low-income communities. 

How have you been navigating the predominately White spaces of clay and what challenges have you experienced? Have you seen sufficient progress in the American ceramic field within the last few years? Are there new artists or movements that inspire you?

ISAAC SCOTT: There are so many layers to this issue. In some ways, I have seen a lot of recent progress when it comes to the visibility and resources allocated to Black and Brown ceramic artists in the US. This has come from the rush institutions to Black and Brown artists after the summer of 2020. I am skeptical of this trend holding up though. 

I think real progress only comes when there is a higher diversity of voices on boards of major art/craft institutions but also, and more importantly, institutions that are built, run, and owned by a diversity of voices. I have been serving on the Collaboration and Engagement Committee of NCECA’s Board for a few years now and I have gotten a better picture of why change is so slow to take place. 

I think the things that excite me the most about the future of ceramics are organizers like Yinka Orafidiya, Osa Atoe, Ife Williams, Mapó Kinnord, and organizations like Kaabo Clay and The Color Network. These organizers and organizations have done amazing work in creating communities, resources, and opportunities for Black and Brown artists and artists of color.

IJ: You state how artists of color are “continually faced with the question of why ‘WE’ do what we do. […] It seems we are left to explain why ‘WE’ create what we create.” 
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “WE” and how White ceramic artists aren’t subject to the same questions, prejudices, and mis- and pre-conceptions that artists of color face?

ISAAC SCOTT: When I say “WE” I mean people of color in general. Many minorities who have different racial and cultural identities are aware of how our identities are mixed up in the lens through which people see our work.

As I mentioned before there has been a trend of searching for Black and Brown artists among major art and craft institutions around the country since the murder of George Floyd. I have seen people's lives completely change during that time. It wasn't the artist's work that changed. Just the cultural relevance of the artist's identity. 

I believe that many institutions made certain changes or created programming around DEI initiatives out of self-preservation and not from a sincere connection to those issues. As an artist of color, I am very aware of how my work and the lens people see my work is attached to my identity as a Black man. So often, when dealing with juries, applications, critiques, and museums, my work is viewed through the white lens. 

I often feel, as do many artists of color I know, that this brings an extra level of explanation, education, and misunderstanding around my work, which is directly tied to my identity. However, when I share my work with the black community or with people who have a similar lived experience the nature of the conversation or the critique around the work shifts dramatically.

Caravel, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 17h x 10w x 10.25d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in
Pombo (Pigeon), 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 17.75h x 9w x 9.5d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mount
Castelo Dos Mouros, 2023 - Glazed Stoneware, 18.75h x 11w x 11.5d in, Archival Pigment Inkjet Print mounted on Dibond, 36 x 36 in

To learn more about Mouros at Lucy Lacoste Gallery, CLICK HERE

To explore the works of Isaac Scott, CLICK HERE

Vulnerable Cultivars: Judy Fox's "Harvest" at Nancy Hoffman Gallery

Judy Fox is a ceramic artist based in the Hudson Valley with a rich history of masterfully transforming ceramics into surrealistic figures and forms. She studied biology and sculpture as an undergraduate at Yale University and received her MA in Art History and Conservation from NYU. Fox pioneered painted figurations of nude children during the 1980s in the East Village that raised controversial issues and over her 40-year career, she has been awarded numerous accolades—recognized for her skill, creativity, and feminist approach to her subjects.

MoCA/NY’s writer Ilsy Jeon speaks with Judy Fox about her recent exhibition titled Harvest at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in Chelsea, New York City, which is on view until the 21st of October. The show includes fifty terra-cotta sculptures that portray animated fruits and vegetables in various sizes, all evoking a sense of sensuality, vulnerability, and humor—a delicious and amusing feast to the eye. 

ILSYJEON (IJ): Your exhibition Harvest is a gorgeous amalgamation of the subjects and sculptures you’ve been studying and working on since COVID-19 hit in 2020. The all-engulfing collective confrontation of disease, age, and dissociation that the pandemic brought forward has directed and influenced your new series that explores mutated vegetables and fruits. Can you speak about how your experience and contemplations during those tumultuous years are reflected in this new body of work?

JUDY FOX: In my prior exhibition, Garden, I used plant forms as a way of exploring forms and imperatives like growth, differentiation, and reproduction that are common to all kinds of life. The plants were animated by structures analogous to what you see in animals. For example, there are functional parts like roots and branches, and then there are displays like leaves and flowers that tend to be more beautiful, in the way that faces and breasts may be more beautiful than bones and guts.

With Harvest, I was really continuing in that vein of using plant life as illustrative of all life. I honed in on the cultivated, showy parts of the plant.  Those parts are bred to be appealing and tasty looking, so when something is off, it is more pointed. And I was looking for a way to express the tenuous mortality we were all feeling during COVID-19, the sense that even if we were OK, our bodies could go awry. I think that threat is something one starts to feel anyway with aging.

Plants, like us, are marred by deformed growth, scarring, disease, rot, desiccation, and damage. Specially bred cultivars may be especially delicate and vulnerable to those things.  I wanted to point to this common vulnerability in a humorous way by using plants that remind us of our own body parts.

Cassava, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 18 x 23 x 16 inches
Broccoli, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 4 x 10 x 7 inches
IJ: This series considers the cause and effect of human activity on Earth as you say, “It is not about what people have done to the Earth, it is about what the Earth will do to people as a result of what people have done to Earth.” What do these deformed plants say about our impacts on the planet and the relationship we have with nature?

JUDY FOX: There is lots to say about environmental problems: about the many ways that we poison and deface our environment, as we try to exploit and cultivate nature to supply human life and lifestyle. But environmental science isn't my forum.

As an artist, my language is visual. I can only make broccoli that is a bit rotted, like tar-stained lungs. I can show a radish that looks butchered, a citrus that looks like it is praying, or a scarred, crouching eggplant.

I can only make people feel the truth about ourselves and how we consume and grow and grow awry. 

IJ: Your previous exhibition Garden with Nancy Hoffman in 2019 was rooted in the story of Adam and Eve in the biblical Eden. Many of your works are inspired by mythology, folklore, and fairytales. Is there a narrative that motivated this new installation? Also, you have a long history of sculpting human figures, what attracted you to focus solely on plants for this show?

JUDY FOX: Having dug deep into evolution, religion, and mythology, I felt a need for a simpler, perhaps more approachable presentation. Harvest avoids character and mythological references. The human body is not directly depicted. I feel like people can no longer handle the naked truth of what the flesh looks like in the kind of idiosyncratic detail that interests me.  

However, I can pay close attention to fruit flesh and not have people look away and wonder if I am shaming someone.  But the body is present in my work, of course.  With plants, I have given myself more freedom to pursue the truth of mortal form.

Twin Tomatoes, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 8 x 9 x 5 inches
Navel Orange, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 8 x 8 x 8 inches
Parsnip, 2020, terra cotta, casein paint, 30 x 19.25 x 11 inches
Lemon, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 3 x 6.5 x 3.75 inches
Peach with Buttoning and Scarring, 2023, terra cotta, casein paint, 10 x 10 x 9 inches
IJ: It's undeniable that your academic background in biology, conservation, and art history has guided your practice—not only in the subjects you sculpt but also in your process. How do you determine the subjects you want to explore? How did you develop your distinct signature style of painting layers of casein paint on clay and why do use ceramics as your primary medium?

JUDY FOX: I learned to sculpt with clay on an armature, which is the best way to experiment with the form itself. And clay is the most direct vehicle for shaping form. So though I moved away from the armature and sculpture casting, continuing to work in clay was natural for me. I like to stick to a traditional medium as a way of having a defined language and historical discourse in my work.

My use of paint grew out of two convictions: that the abstracted modernist nude was played out, and that the academic figure was hopelessly sentimentalized and conventional.  So I looked back to gothic polychrome sculptures that celebrated the way people really look.  Back in the 1980's when I started, I was not aware of any other contemporary artists painting modeled figures.  

My specific figurative subjects: well-known characters in well-known identifying poses, were chosen because their stories and their gestures had interesting readings by contemporary standards. Misinterpretation is almost unavoidable when translating across time and culture. It becomes part of new times and cultures. I was highlighting appropriation at a time when awareness of it was dim. Now that everyone is hyperaware of that issue, the reading of gestures in my older work has likely changed.

IJ: The way you sculpt the various vegetables and fruits has a beautiful human quality where they look alive, have their own personalities, and are reminiscent of the human body. Twin Tomatoes and Peach with Buttoning and Scarring take the shape of breasts, Carrot, Parsnip, and Cassava look like legs, and Ackee resembles a vulva.

You’ve noted: “I wanted all those non-animate things [plants] to express all of those animated qualities.” Was it a challenge maintaining the character of these vegetables while incorporating human attributes? How do you envision viewers interpreting and responding to these works and has any feedback about your exhibition surprised you?

JUDY FOX: When sculpting the form, I very often had to pull back the figurative shapes that naturally inhabit my work. I studied photos of many examples of each kind of fruit to figure out its physical language (lumps, grooves, plumpness, texture) and I tried to stick to that.  But it turns out it doesn't take much for people to see themselves in anything. I am very pleased to report that people seemed to enjoy and get this work on many levels - a pleasant surprise.


To explore and learn more about Judy Fox's work, CLICK HERE

To explore and learn more about the Nancy Hoffman Gallery and Fox's exhibition Harvest, CLICK HERE

Experimental Ceramics with Cory Brown

MoCA/NY's President Judith Schwartz speaks with Cory Brown about his creative use of new glaze technologies that influence his series of innovative and experimental sculptures. He describes his journey, first as a studio potter that used the Nerikome process - a technique that involves stacking colored clay and slicing through the cross-sections to reveal a pattern - and now uses this technique with experimental glaze and firing techniques for total transformations of form, color, texture and scale. 

Cory Brown received his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and is currently working at Amaco, developing new glazes for an international clientele. Watch our interview with Cory Brown to learn about his motivations, philosophy, liaison with Amaco, and most importantly the processes used to create extraordinarily inventive glazed sculptures that defy gravity.


To explore and learn more about Cory Brown, CLICK HERE.

Exploring the World Upside Down with Patti Warashina

Patti Warashina, a renowned and acclaimed satirical ceramicist based in Washington (US), speaks with Ilsy Jeon about her recent solo exhibition at the Traver Gallery titled The World Upside Down. 

The exhibition, showcasing dozens of Warashina’s provocative sculptures is a delight to experience, as her ceramic figures seduce you with their playful charms and lock you into contemplating the turmoils pestering society. Warashina has a profound history of capturing the dichotomous nature of humor and doom (with a hefty spoonful of absurdity), and masterfully crafts physical manifestations of the characters and narratives prancing in her mind.

Wild Blue Yonder - courtesy of Traver Gallery

 

IJ: Congratulations on such an incredible exhibition! I enjoyed watching your walkthrough and listening to you elaborate on your work.  You’ve been represented by the Traver Gallery since 2019 and this is your first major exhibition at the gallery. How did you prepare for this show and why did you decide to title it The World Upside Down?

PATTI WARASHINA: My ideas over the years, seem to be involved in what is happening around me. I think of my work as a “visual diary.”  I read two newspapers every day and the news channels are constantly on while I work in my studio as it is difficult to watch movies, which demands focusing on the screen.  

Three years ago, when the pandemic was in full swing, it seemed as though the world was in constant turmoil (ie. politics, covid, environment, war, homelessness, etc.).  The title World Upside Down seemed appropriate to describe the work which represents all my concerns and reflections.

Democracy on the Run - work courtesy of Traver Gallery
IJ: Your work reveals aspects of society that you consider significant to explore and scrutinize—what are the issues in the exhibition that you’re addressing and how do you wish the viewer to engage and respond to your pieces?  

Societal, political, and environmental issues are expressed in my work. Because of the horrifying issues that society is facing, I try to present these problems in my art, by drawing the viewer to the work through visual color and stylized abstraction, using identifiable characters and objects that the viewer can relate to in their own world.  After a second glance, the meaning of these objects and characters becomes more apparent to the viewer and is open to personal interpretation.

 

IJ: Your figures express anxiety, tension, desire for escape, and helplessness but all in a humorous and playful tone. As a satirist, how do you balance these juxtaposing feelings?

The way I convey these societal ills in my art helps to protect me psychologically from the issues and be able to address these horrifying conditions through the way that I portray them.   

IJ: You reference the pandemic and the collective experience of madness and disorder we all endured. How has the pandemic affected your work?

The pandemic has greatly affected my art and is a big subject of much of it. The issues I portray are connected to the human condition and to our political division, war, environmental destruction, and women’s issues. 

IJ:The treatment of your figures is stylized and sculpted in such an animated way that, albeit the forms are static, there’s movement and dynamism exuding from your work. You note how your figures represent the human consciousness, can you elaborate on this? 

The stylized human figures represent "human consciousness” and are floating above the earth’s sphere, or hemispheres, that represent the “world” or planet on which we live.  To me, these floating figures represent beings observing the conditions of society or what is happening on the earth below.  

 

IJ: Over your 60 years of working with clay, how has your relationship with the medium evolved? Do you see a difference in how clay is expressed, created, and experienced today versus when you first started?  

Like many of us who are clay artists, the tactile seduction of the material was the initial attraction to this versatile material.  Its "chameleon-like" character can be made to look like almost any other building material (i.e. metal, wood, paper, vegetation, etc.)  

Initially, I was also attracted to “conquering” wheel-thrown objects, and the curiosity of completing this clay form by the myriad, unique, and endless techniques from glazed surfaces, that the ‘fire” could perform.  Clay also lends itself not only to the 3-dimensional form but also adds another dimension to 2-D surface compositions as well. 

Yes, I have seen a dramatic shift in the versatility of the clay art medium since I first started, as our communication of the craft has exploded worldwide, and the transfer of ideas and talent is boundless.

 

IJ: You’re a long-time friend of Judith Schwartz, the President of MoCA/NY, and was even featured in her book Confrontational Ceramics where she included your piece “Oil Slick, from Drunken Power,” which depicts Bush and Cheney covered in oil spills—critiquing their interest in Middle Eastern oil. You’ve also portrayed controversial figures such as Trump and Putin. Has the rise of political polarization and sensitivity influenced how you approach depicting these political figures? 

Sure, they are part of society's conflicts, and for me, thought-provoking subject matter.   Perhaps because of the abstractions of the figurative elements, one might think of these pieces as 3-dimensional political cartoons.

Explosive Situation - work courtesy of Traver Gallery
Double Trouble - work courtesy of Traver Gallery

The political, national, and international polarization, as well as the horrific problems that encompass our earth and societies, is ugly and difficult to comprehend as well as visually unattractive to view. I tend to interpret the ugliness in a manner that captures the viewer by composition, modifying subject matter, and approaching the surface in a bold, graphic way. Once captured, the viewer will start to see the details of the subject that can be personally interpreted. Hopefully, this makes the subject matter approachable and visually digestible.


To explore and learn more about Patti Warashina's exhibition The World Upside Down at Traver Gallery, CLICK HERE

 

To watch Traver Gallery's walkthrough with Patti Warashina, CLICK HERE

 

To read Patti Warashina's Statement, CLICK HERE