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'The Vessel as Metaphor'
Exhibit dates: 16 February-18 March 2007.
about the show
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Doreen Connors
"Muraenidae Creel-detail"
2005, copper wire
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Denise Dumas
"Still from video
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  Phyllis Ewen
"Small Minds"
2005, latex, resin, wire
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  Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
"Ixchel's Dream"
2002, mixed media
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Mary Kaye
copy to come
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  Geoffrey Koetsch
"The Mystic Vessel"
2007, Polyester Resin
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Roy Pardi
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  Rebecca Parker
"Standing Ground"
performance piece
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Ellen Schön
"Birth of Venus"
2000, stoneware
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about the show
Curators: Ellen Schön and Geoffrey Koetsch
The exhibit features work by 3-D visual artists, who broaden the interpretation of the vessel as a functional object. The vessel form--traditionally understood to enclose, contain, give access, or transport--also points to other aspects of human experience. These artists explore the potential meanings of the vessel figuratively, kinetically, electronically, and in installation and performance. Vessels are seen as containers of personal memory, sexual politics, and social commentary. They evoke the cerebral and the visceral, as well as the spiritual.

artist statements

Doreen Connors
I use copper wire and fibers to knit/knot/weave/sew 3-D lines into sculptural forms/vessels. I often infuse the metal with sea water, fire, or earth (i.e. sand, dirt), as well as air to create color changes in the copper. These vessels are conductive/conduitive containers for ‘inner+outer’ galactic/cosmic, electromagnetic energy. The vessels serve as receptacles for dissolving or resolving constraints and neutralizing opposition. They “hold in” and “let out” simultaneously.

Denise Dumas: email
My work articulates psychological states and boundaries; the way that an interior self is constructed through memory, context and experience. My recent work explores what occurs when the integrity of this interior self experiences a radical displacement in his or her environment, language and/or culture.
In my installation Borderline, the trunk-stage suggests that we carry our personal boundaries/frontiers with us wherever we go. I explore how the self-defined limits of an out-of-scale stage -here used as a metaphor for inner restrictions- can become a tool to fulfill a child’s dream: to become a ballerina. While the sculpture-stage compresses and oppresses, the video performance evokes overlapping memories of past and recent events, conveying how one’s power to expand can reside in creativity.

Phyllis Ewen
For the past several years I have been concerned with the nature of inquiry – both artistic and scientific -- into natural phenomena. Our attempts to contain experience, time, and memory and the impossibility of doing so are issues that resonate with my own experience, emotional and intellectual, of my place in the natural world.
I use vessels as a metaphor to suggest notions of breathing, filling, emptying, pouring, and holding. They may refer both to the body and to the mind’s investigations. They look like glass, but are not.
In this work, selected from ongoing series of vessels, I have cast beakers, bottles, tubes, and funnels in latex, filled and covered the castings with clear resin, and, in some cases, organic found objects. Steel wires become linear elements to suggest, delineate and define space around and between the vessel-like pieces. The three-dimensional drawing refers both to scientific notation, diagramming, and the hand of the artist in attempting to capture ephemeral phenomena. They add another layer to the process of investigation and understanding, a continuum between art and science.

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
The vessel is a potent symbol, with potential meaning beyond the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “a container (as a cask, bottle, kettle, cup, or bowl) for holding something.” Books are vessels, forms which contain knowledge and through which we can share our hopes and dreams. The books of the Spirit Book Series are containers linked to the longstanding tradition of books as testaments of faith and belief. They hold my response to the natural world that we see and the invisible one that lies behind it. Each page is a meditation that echoes nature with both repetition and variety. “Reading” the books is meant to be a contemplative experience that takes the reader out of the everyday world and into a state of gratitude and reverence.

Mary Kaye: email
Clouds move across the sky gently pushed by the wind, forming and un-forming themselves slowly like daydreams. They fade into and out of existence. However, I have made an imaginary boat, not a cloud.
A real boat is a container that moves from one place to another. An imaginary boat moves from one state of being to another. Its cargo is transformation. In this, it is like a cloud.

Geoffrey Koetsch
The Mystic Vessel is an expression of personal disintegration and renewal. I created the male figure during a time of personal distress—it was then titled Man Who Has Been Hurt. The form of the egg was inspired by the theme of this exhibition. Juxtaposed with Man Who Has Been Hurt it became a mystic vessel, a capsule for personal transformation and regeneration. The title Mystic Vessel also refers to the retort of alchemical mysticism visualized by Hieronymous Bosch in the Garden of Earthly Delights. The alchemical retort was a vessel for the distillation and purification of the spirit.

Roy Pardi
Evaporation (Tipping Point) is a response to the war in Iraq. It examines the political rhetoric through which this war has been promoted by sampling the unedited speeches of President George W. Bush. It creates a soundscape of these speeches randomly intermixed through triggering events every bit as arbitrary as the reasons presented for going to war.
The work is comprised of a 4 x 4 grid of 16 "drinking bird" toys. This toy is an example of a thermodynamic heat engine, converting heat energy into kinetic energy. The blue fluid inside the toy is methylene chloride, a chemical with a very low boiling point. When the head of the toy bird is saturated with water, the playback cycle begins. As the water evaporates, the head cools and the methylene chloride vapors inside it condense. This creates a pressure differential between the head and the body which forces fluid up through the body into the head. Once enough fluid has passed into the head, the center of gravity shifts, and the toy tilts, taking up more water from the glass and allowing the internal fluid to flow back down into the body. The cycle then repeats.
Each toy is wired with a tilt switch controlling the playback of an audio file of a significant speech on Iraq by George W. Bush. Each toy controls its own audio file and when it tilts audio playback begins. The audio "spins up" from zero to full speed at the start of each tilt event and then "spins down" once the event is over. The next tilt event starts playback from where it last stopped so each speech is heard in its entirety. A light beneath each toy highlights which one is currently playing.

Rebecca Parker: email
I embrace the ritual that takes place in the medium of ceramics. I make, wedge, and throw the clay and then fire my own work. Through participating in this cycle I have become engaged in the process of creation but dissatisfied with the restrictions of functional pottery. In my frustration I seek new ways to use the language of clay in installations and performances.
As I work further to explore this new paradigm in clay I integrate performance. The same processes and rituals that turned me away from the craft of clay now allowed my work to grow conceptually. I use clay within installation and performance to question the rituals of women’s roles in society. I recognize the historical notion of ceramics as a craft based medium and the subsequent female gender association. I am establishing a critical discourse by infusing a feminist conceptual framework into a medium historically remanded as inferior, decorative, or purely utilitarian, in contrast to the male dominated “fine” arts. I use vessels such as bowls as a representation of domesticity and perform monotonous tasks that relate to women’s roles within society.

Ellen Schön
Ceramic vessel forms are inherently anthropomorphic. I have always been interested in the ability of a vessel to point to something beyond itself—to function as metaphor. My recent work is intended to evoke a feeling of fluidity and growth, of human gesture, stance, and striving, perhaps even of narrative content.
Through spontaneous handling of inanimate clay, I attempt to find and breathe life into form. The material directs me as I direct it. We are in a reciprocal relationship.

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