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Cheryl Ann Thomas
Tansey Contemporary, Denver, Colorado
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Cheryl Ann Thomas, “Crest,” 2018, porcelain, 29 x 23 x 20”

Continuing through February 28, 2019

“Litany of Failures” is an apt title for a ceramics exhibit when you consider the risk-taking involved not only in building clay sculptures, but also in trusting them to the fires of the kiln. The occasional deformed and shattered pieces are inevitable. Cheryl Ann Thomas is philosophical about the risks, seeing “failure” as a relative term if, in the end, her abstract ceramic pieces can serve as metaphors for life’s uncertainties. With that in mind, Thomas’ practice centers on coil construction using ultra-thin segments of porcelain clay from which she fashions columns and other shapes. During firing, if the shapes slump or collapse from being too thin or too tall, Thomas is content with having learned something from the experimentation. The pieces might stay as is, or she might enfold them into other “failed” pieces and return them to the kiln. In either case, the results are pleasingly multifaceted and have the ability to engage viewers in a number of ways.

A few of the pieces, such as the 2 1/2-foot-high “Crest,” call to mind a mourning figure, perhaps because the still-visible coils could pass for thick fabric, even a shroud, and because the shape appears to be collapsing in on itself, as if expressing grief. Viewing “Crest” from a different angle might elicit a different response. By the same token, some of the pieces — although similarly fabric-like in texture — appear to reach upward, or are less compacted. They could easily represent a lightness of being or a sense of optimism

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