Gail M. Brown, Curator

David Furman
14.5 x 16.25 x 12.5"


Bill Stewart
17 x 8 x 36"


Curator's Gallery Talk



A New Look at an Historic Art Form

There is something compelling about an alteration of anticipated scale. "Smallness" can be fascinating and valued as a precious gem. An object's relationship to human size and the ease of fit in a domestic space can be more than a comfortable interaction. The intimacy of its implicit ratio to the human hand anchors its presence: its impact can be surprisingly monumental when other aesthetic factors are met.

FRESH FIGURINES invites a look at one-of-a-kind objects of ceramic figuration in this reduced scale by both familiar and new makers. These works run a gamut of overtly public to personal issues. Some artists work in diminutive scale regularly, others addressed the challenge with freshness: all contribute to the story of the seductiveness of the miniature.

Throughout history, small scale, self-contained articles endure: from artifacts, effigies and tomb objects to exquisitely crafted, handmade figures and scenarios referencing life style and social mores, the pop culture of the day and the celebration of tribal figures in situ.

From European porcelain houses, Chinese export porcelain and English folk ceramics, to the glut of manufactured collectibles with retail goals focused on the mantle piece and, since the days of the Grand Tour, the unrelenting, international plethora of tawdry and ubiquitous tourist souvenirs, figurines reign . The presence and persistence of these formats-from objet d'art to commodities of the day-endure, inspire and/or provoke.

The diverse and sometimes irreverent works of the invited artists in FRESH FIGURINES, individually, in sequence or as vignettes, address weighty contemporary issues of nature, politics, family and the individual. There are witty riffs on art and history, kitsch and commentary and on the sublime and the overly recognizable, mass produced product. And there are some which are physically larger than expected! Many are, at first view, subtle, confronting the chosen issues as subtext. The works urge us to explore the ideas closely.

Small scale invites or provokes closer inspection. At its best, it can offer intended focus and contemplation, and these suggest the possibility of a memorable experience. Categorically, there may be added drama and inverse power to the diminution of size by evidence of the material prowess, complexity of narrative, uninhibited nature and obsessive commitment. The issues, vocabularies and the singular presence of the works prevail and seduce: these are often truly sizable matters!


Go back to the main FRESH FIGURINES page or to Gail Brown's Home page.