February 4 - March 9, 2013
Reception: Tuesday, February 12, 6 - 8 p.m.

Exhibition Curated by Tiffany Schmierer

Lauren Ari   Lorraine Bonner    Shenny Cruces    Michelle Gregor    Susannah Israel    Chris Kanyusik   Joe Kowalczyk    Tomoko Nakazato    Juan Santiago

Body Language: Figures in Clay is an exhibition of nine Bay Area ceramic sculptors who use the human form as a vehicle of artistic expression. Each artist uses the plasticity of the clay material in distinctive ways to capture life, emotion, and attitude. Drawing from personal history, observations of life, and imagination, each artist captures unique aspects of the human experience. Ranging from realistic and representational to abstract and fantastical, the works invite you to engage because they are familiar forms that bring new perspectives. The Bay Area has a strong local history of artists working figuratively in clay including Robert Arneson, Stephen De Staebler, and Viola Frey, who pushed the perceived boundaries of clay in the 60s, taking it beyond craft into contemporary sculpture practice. The artists in Body Language: Figures in Clay continue to push the versatile clay medium to new places.

Lauren Ari, from Beds series

The colorful figures of Lauren Ari fall between two and three dimensions, combining drawing and painting to capture the energy of life. Her work is layered and packed full of visual information for the viewer to explore. Her themes are derived from everyday life activities such as dreaming, eating, and playing.


Lorraine Bonner, Sculptures

Lorraine Bonner’s realistic works express themes of trauma and suffering, as well as strength and perseverance. Her sculptures push the viewer to confront tough social themes and the resilience of people to survive.


Shenny Cruces, Bawdy Girls Series

Shenny Cruces uses industrial processes, slipcasting porcelain to create multiple figurative parts which are arranged and repurposed to explore gender, femininity, and the cultural perceptions attached to the objects she casts.


Michelle Gregor, Scout

Michelle Gregor’s work evokes a sense of discovery, appearing to be chiseled from stone. Her sculptures have a classical feel mixed with a contemporary color approach, seeming to reinterpret notions of beauty.


Susannah Israel, Tea Ceremony (detail)

The gestural work of Susannah Israel melds landscape with figure to create personal stories of connection. Her rich red terracotta color palette is both industrial and natural, referencing the contrast in the Oakland industrial landscape she calls home.


Chris Kanyusik, Cops/Robbers (detail)

Chris Kanyusik’s stark figures explore communication and human interactions. They skillfully meld abstraction and representation in a fluid way, focusing attention on the overall composition and volume of the forms.


Joe Kowalczyk, Hoodwink

Joe Kowalczyk works with animal and human forms to create pieces that have layered symbolism and darkly playful narratives. The surfaces are antiqued and subdued, giving the impression that the figures exist in another time.


Tomoko Nakazato, Murder! Murder! Murder! of Crows

Drawing inspiration from her hometown of Tokyo, Japan and her transition to San Francisco, Tomoko Nakazato draws upon the cityscape, contrasted with her love of nature. She is influenced by Japanese animation and other pop culture stories, creating fantastical clay characters that become a canvas to explore environmental and social narratives.


Juan Santiago, All the Angels and Saints

Born in Manila, Philippines, Juan Santiago brings with him vivid memories of his childhood.  Through the process of casting the qualities of porcelain slip became a means to recreate such experiences, like watching time pass and freeze through flowing candle wax.  Catholic "figurative" iconography as well as architectural motifs are purposefully represented and misrepresented as he infuses drama and satire with his own ideas.

-Essay by Tiffany Schmierer