During the process of staging this exhibition, COVID-19 has simultaneously made its way through communities all around the world. Conversely, as I write this, the Space X astronauts sit strapped in their seats, the initial mission to the International Space Station “scrubbed” for the day. There are any number of observations to be gleaned from this confluence of events, but there is one that is most prescient for me; all of these have to do with our global fabric. This inaugural Distant Ceramics exhibition received entries from all over the world, providing those of us who use ceramics in some aspect of making art, the opportunity to understand what other artists are thinking about in the context of our times. As an interesting added note, the organizer of this exhibition, Dr. Thomas Stollar, awaits my final selections from his own isolation in an apartment not so far from where today’s rocket lift-off was to take place. Privately I smile to myself thinking about these two launches from Florida happening in the same time frame; this exhibition and the Dragon’s. While one has to wait for the right weather “window,” this Distant Ceramics’ show is going forward. It’s poignant.
I was deeply honored to be invited to select this exhibition. Because it was conjured as a real time response to this pandemic makes the entire experience all the more interesting. I have found it challenging to weigh sometimes competing forces. For example, should resolved finish be more important than experimentation? In the past, I’ve curated shows that spotlight experimentation over finish. That’s probably explained by the fact that I count experimentation as being the most important aspect of being an artist. After all, experimentation is often where invention lies. But not this time. I decided to curate works that seem resolved in the direction of a specific ‘body of work,’ that make clear their makers’ having run the gamut of experiment, trial and error, and having made those difficult choices of “this is where I’m going and this is why.” This approach has presented interesting dilemmas, and I thank Dr. Thomas Stollar for the opportunity to challenge myself.
In closing, I want to thank all of the artists who entered their work. Throughout my life I’ve been most admiring of risky behavior. As I have considered and re-considered all of the entries, I’ve been most cognizant of the fact that every artist who entered is a fellow risk-taker and is to be commended for having put their ‘selves’ and works on the line.
Stay safe. Stay strong.
May 26, 2020