Gail M. Brown, Curator

Richard Cleaver
We, 2005
ceramic, metal, freshwater pearls painted in oil, garnets, crystal beads.
13.5 x 7.25 x 5.25"


Tip Toland
The Whistlers, 2005
stoneware, paint, pastel, synthetic hair.
26 x 42 x 22"

Excerpts from the
Curator's Catalogue Essay

grace - a touch of truth which lets us see the world in a new way.

Artists "grace" us with their wisdom and courage. Through their unique means of creative expression they communicate about significant life matters which may engage and provoke us. They entice us to think and to feel. They may reinvent the ordinary to teach about the unusual. They employ the playful to create the profound. They offer works of startling contrasts to engage our collective attention. They recycle the common to create the extraordinary.

The artists in The Edges of Grace may employ historically considered craft materials and processes to comment on the world around us. This exhibition explores the work of some of those who confront provocative themes and unexpected content with their distinctive visual vocabularies and forms, material combinations and masterful techniques. Inspired by deeply held ideas and convictions, the works generate unanticipated questions, offer new definitions and raise lingering issues worthy of serious contemplation.

The nature of craft- its invitation to the tactile experience for both maker and audience, its recurring, familiar domestic and personal scale and its ties to the historic continuum of singular, hand made, functional objects in the decorative arts- imbues and grounds this work with a human presence. Whether they are vessels, quilts, figurines, books, tapestries, jewelry, furniture or sculpture, the forms and media all serve the expressive potential of the compelling ideas.

From a range of emotional and intellectual perspectives, as commentary and critique, the matters addressed include the physical- the human body and the world around us, social custom- history and domesticity, cultural values- humaneness and consumerism, the spiritual- introspection and documentation, and personal life journeys- identity and family- in the 21st century.

Visual expression can be a highly effective form of education and activism. These ingenious often irreverent works, in clay, fiber, glass, metal, wood and mixed media may amplify the darker side of issues: realities these makers perceive which then challenge us to be more actively conscious about the world we inhabit. Truly authentic, heartfelt work demands consideration of its significant ideas which may, at first, provoke and discomfort and, then engage and enlighten.

Some address the physical world by pointing to realities and practices: to our similarities and differences, to aging and impermanence, to illness and imperfection, to sensuality and our carnal natures, to body issues which confront and redefine value and beauty and, to our hidden, yet universal, private "skins." Some address the fragility, delicacy and tentativeness of our finite resources in the natural world: overpopulation, pollution and extinction, always with mother nature and human nature jousting. Some reference rampant technology and ethics. Others explore creative uses of post consumer excess, directly or subtly.

Some address social custom and cultural values: racism, hatred, patriotism and conscience. Others identify war, politics and humaneness, gun proliferation and nuclear threat, immigration and civil and individual rights. Some works highlight historic and contemporary rituals, violence and barbaric cultural practices. Often with barbed humor, family, domestic and religious matters are bared. Idols and stereotypes are debunked. Consumerism and value, ethics and luxury are mocked. Icons and allusions to life style are exposed. Middle class values, tales of truth and fiction about actual and ethical treatment of animals and pets, the terminally ill, war toys, etc. are all put under a microscope of social conscience.

Some address matters of mind and soul, personal and community spirit, markers to validate and remember, personal mementoes and diaries. Others explore individual and tribal odysseys, address identity of the everyman and the family of womanhood, as personal or public artifacts and reliquaries. Literary, aesthetic and historic references are cited and transformed, often to denote psychological and spiritual matters. Others trace and echo natural and scientific systems. The tribe of humankind is addressed and acknowledged. The accompanying titles and artist statements are significant clues and clarifiers.

Be it in knitting, carving, casting, chasing, forming, turning, weaving or hand building, these often deeply profound, tactile objects resonate with authenticity. The makers' focused experimental journeys and masterful skills serve the ideas proudly. The joy in the creation is lavishly evident. Whether the objects sit atop a pedestal, adorn a wall or address the body in the intimate way of jewelry, the message is the mistress. Be the scale miniature or monumental, the impact resonates. The human condition, in its particular and universal references, in its complexities and intricacies, in its trials and triumphs, is truly examined and celebrated in these diverse, exquisitely conceived and well crafted, exceptional works.

Gail M. Brown
January 2006


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