Archive for August, 2011

Atmospheric Firings

Posted by kfunk on August 24th, 2011

a tradition of acceptance

Atmospheric Firings at the Triton Museum, Santa Clara, California

July 30 – Sept 11, 2011

by Susannah Israel

Nine wood-firing artists presented strong, diverse work at the Triton Museum, masterfully constructed, elegantly conceived and collaboratively fired.  The opening reception was well-attended, with viewers filling the large gallery for the duration of the event. All around the room, groups of people gathered by the artwork to engage in discussion and enthusiastic observation.  The artists were in attendance to answer questions and meet the public, adding to the sense of celebration.

I had the opportunity to talk with Hiroshi Ogawa (my notebook in hand) expecting he would have information to offer about his work.  Instead he wanted to give me details about the work of the other artists.  His knowledge and enthusiasm were the perfect advocacy for better understanding the diversity of these works.  Ogawa modestly made no mention of his own work or his role in the community, but I later learned that seven of the artists fire in his kiln in Oregon. All speak of his generosity and knowledge as part of their experience and the spirit of the work.

Installation view, photo- James Dewrance

Installation view, photo- James Dewrance

The collaborative nature of wood-firing is intensive.  Providing the best possible results for everyone’s pieces translates to physically working twelve-hour shifts, through day and night, throwing wood into a small port in a flaming brick kiln wall. This is serious commitment.  Diane Levinson, who proposed the exhibition, talked with me about the process of curating and installing the work, informed by the same careful respect and attention that characterizes the wood-firing process. Just as the pieces are placed in the kiln to maximize the possibilities of the firing, the work was placed in the museum with an eye to creating the most beautiful and successful totality.  For example, an important sense of the work’s identity was lost when the pieces were commingled in the gallery space, leading to the collective decision to create an area for each artist instead.  The installation took all day, under the direction of Levinson and Terry Inokuma.



Posted by kfunk on August 20th, 2011

Hanna Hannah: Frames of War

by Tom Leddy

Immanuel Kant’s discussion of aesthetics (in his Critique of Judgment) begins with something he calls “The Analytic of Beauty” in which he describes beauty as being detached from matters of morality and cognition.  Free beauty is exemplified by flowers and wall-paper, among other things (including, oddly, crustaceans).  Such beauties have the capacity to cause our cognitive faculties, the imagination and the understanding, to go into free play, giving rise to pleasure.  Beauty is not in the thing itself but in its capacity to cause this experience.  Flowers and wallpaper often have elaborate designs that encourage us to linger in contemplation.  This contemplation is a relaxing mental activity very unlike problem-solving and scientific thinking.  The freedom involves not having to apply concepts.

Untitled, (Lebanon), 2009

Untitled, (Lebanon), 2009, Casein on paper 72 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: rr jones

Decorative wallpaper, unlike flowers, is actually designed by an artist or craftsman.  But the main point is that it subordinates content to pleasing formal arrangement.  We enjoy good wallpaper design but think of it as something that should be in the background.  Kant insisted that, although objects of free beauty have a designed look, a look of purposiveness, we should not think about the actual purpose, since then we would no longer be engaging in free play.  A botanist, for example, has no advantage in appreciating flowers and should set aside his or her knowledge of plant reproduction if he or she wishes to appreciate its beauty.  Kant excluded the sensual pleasures of color from his account of beauty: color counted merely as adding charm.  But this seems wrong, since our appreciation of flowers and wallpaper includes the colors, and neither would be the same in black and white.  So Kant should have said that the free play is between imagination, understanding and sense.

Untitled (Iraqi and American soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq), 2009-2010

Untitled (Iraqi and American soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq), 2009-2010, Casein on paper, Courtesy of the Artist Photo: rr jones