Purchase is one of the 65 venues in Westchester County participating in the unprecedented county-wide celebration of the ceramic arts, All Fired Up!
The Richard & Dolly Maass Gallery in the School of Art+Design at Purchase College is presenting a large scale installation by Brooklyn-based artist Yoko Inoue curated by Dara Meyers-Kingsley through November 26.
Comprised of thousands of sculptural works created over the past six years the installation, Yoko Inoue: Projects in Ceramics, investigates issues of globalization, identity, and immigrant assimilation through the use of hand cast ceramic objects derived from mass-produced items most often found in the multicultural urban market place. Representing the commoditization of culture, the installation calls attention to the historical meanings of these mundane objects and the attraction that they hold for us.
"In the form of installation, I demonstrate the complexity of cultural merging. I investigate how cultural meaning is transformed and absorbed into new social contexts. Through the casting process and by applying traditional material and methods, I try to link these objects to their lost origins." (Yoko Inoue, October 2008)
Part shrine, part marketplace, part country fair or backyard, Inoue's exhibition is a playful, yet poignant, social comment on culture as commodity. The installation draws the viewer in with its seemingly light-hearted forms -- bunnies and Buddha-headed statues abound -- while the artist's Herculean task casting and assembling the objects in this exhibition draws amazement. Art and kitsch, high and low, East and West, hand-made and ready-made, are dialectics found throughout Inoue's clever work.
The exhibition gives the impression of a world in flux, an active marketplace of global commerce. Throughout the gallery the "islands" of installations give the sense that the objects are coming and going; being presented for contemplation, but in transit. Inoue makes the viewer very aware of the transition of objects from consumer goods into art (another kind of consumer good). Here the immigrant vendor (like those found on Canal Street) becomes a cipher for these ideas, suggested by the kitsch-like multiples and objects (good-luck cats, Easter bunnies, Pokemon characters, and Statues of Liberty), exhibited along with hand-made crocheted flowers and hand-inscribed aprons, and stuffed animals dipped in porcelain slip and fired displayed in wine crates, on dollies, blankets and crates tied and tethered with ropes to the gallery columns.
"The dynamics of the marketplace can be examined in connection with issues that exist in different and intricate layers of society. There are messages in the traffic of street commerce. I find pleasure in noticing things in the density of the city that capture my attention like sparks. I explore the hidden connotations of common objects that construct emotional layers of life, compassion, and personal attachment." (Yoko Inoue, October 2008)
Nowhere are all the themes of Inoue's work most evident than in "Water Gets No Enemy: A Wishing Well"(2007), the centerpiece of the exhibition. Exhibited in New York for the first time, this work is comprised of hundreds of hand-cast ceramic Buddha-headed piggy banks, with bodies shaped like water bottles, created by Inoue while in residence at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands last year. The artist writes, "This work explores the amorphous border between commercial corruption and spiritual purity. Unifying these two things through the casting process allows base and spiritual notions about them to compete and intertwine. Through the forces of globalization, everything is a commodity for sale, even water, which was once considered sacred and a common heritage. Nothing remains without price tags. Through this work I hope the viewer might regain a deeper understanding of water, its transcendent nature, as the essence of life itself." (Yoko Inoue, October 2008)
Inoue received her MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College, NY, and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2000. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Momenta Art and Von Lintel Gallery, and in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, the Sculpture Center, the Rubin Museum, the Bronx Museum, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Greene Naftali Gallery, Art in General, the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa, UCLA, and Yerba Buena in San Francisco, CA.
Awards and grants include two NYFA Fellowships; a Lambent Fellowship from Tides Foundation; Franklin Furnace Award for Performance Art; Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; GAPS (Grant for Art in Public Spaces) from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council / 9 -11 Fund, Jerome Foundation Travel and Research Grant; and Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. Residencies include Skowhegan, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Art Omi, LMCC Workspace, the Center for Book Arts; the Civitella Ranieri Center Residency in Italy and .ekwc (European Ceramic Work Center) in the Nethelands.
Dara Meyers-Kingsley is an independent curator specializing in contemporary art and media. She organized Inner and Outer Space, an exhibition of nine international contemporary artists' site-specific works for the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh which is on view through January 11th. Ms. Meyers-Kingsley teaches at Parsons School of Design in the Graduate Fine Arts Department. She lives in Usonia in Pleasantville, New York.
The Richard & Dolly Maass Gallery is located in the Visual Arts Building on the campus of Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, New York. Admission is free. The gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 5PM.
The artist reception is Thursday, November 13 from 5 - 7PM.