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Fertile Ground
at Santa Fe Clay Gallery Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Kathryn M Davis


Jonathan Mess, 'Landfill #1', 10 x 14 x 10'

Continuing through December 4, 2010

Masterfully curated from the heart by Santa Fe Clay Director Avra Leodas, "Fertile Ground" was envisioned by her as an exhibition to serve as fodder for Critical Santa Fe, a recent symposium on art criticism and ceramics. "Fertile Ground's" artists do things with clay that don't often get done.
 
The tiniest threads of extruded clay in the hands of John Chwekun draw form from sand in space - a one inch cube of space at that. It's almost like watching an illusionist do his work; when it's performed well enough, belief is willingly suspended, and we witness magic. Cheryl Ann Thomas's porcelain work of collapsed coil cylinders looks like piles of fabric bandages from a distance. Up close, creamy white with hints of pink flesh out the work, almost literally, and loss and pain are inferred. Geological eons are invoked by Jonathan Mess' cast boxes, while his surfaces are as veined as a craquelured Old Master's. Nathan Craven's tiles, made of multicolored and shaped clay scraps, stretch across the floor and upward, ambitiously, along the wall. Priced by the square foot, they defy traditional notions of clay as the potter's medium.

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