Ceramics exhibit 'stretches limits,' offers wide variance

By Michael Eilers

Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Sensibilites/Material/Clay" is the title of an exhibit of undergraduate work in ceramics opening this week at the 830 Gallery. The juried exhibition showcases both the skill and breadth of subject matter available to students of this medium.

Hand-picked by juror Nina Borgia-Aberle, visiting professor and head of the Ceramics Department, the pieces represent the best in undergraduate work from the past three years. Borgia-Aberle said she used several criteria to choose the best of the work submitted for the show. "One aspect I looked for was personal work, pieces that expressed and reflected the artist's personality and, of course, the student's ability to work with the material was important."

Judy Lynelle Brunner's "Self-portrait" is a striking example of both criteria, combining craft and artistic sensibility. Featuring a sculpted head and shoulders glazed in brilliant shades of blue, white and pink, the bust has a hollow back which encloses a miniature gallery. Crystals, dried roses, and pieces of shattered blue glass become a miniature record of a personal history, relics that contain memories. Brunner's piece won the Sarnoff Award, donated by Sarnoff Art and Writing.

Another award-winning piece is Arlene Rozo's "Let's Have Mexican Tonight," a comic sculpture with a panicked man in a sombrero popping his head out of a stove door. Chunky, exaggerated shapes and bright colors make the piece as eye-catching as it is funny, drawing attention to both the absurdity of the phrase used as the title and the ugliness of pervasive cultural stereotypes. Colorcraft Inc. donated the award.

Graduate student Tori Arpad organized the show, reserving the gallery space and convincing local businesses to donate the awards. "Having a juror lends professionalism to the show, and ensures a higher level of quality in the work shown," she said. "It also gives the artists a sense of accomplishment, and something they could cite as a success in the future."

Covering intensely personal subjects such as childbirth, fear of death, and cultural themes, the pieces use the limitless plasticity of clay to express emotional as well as visual themes. Zoe Schreiber's "I'm Trying to Suck Myself Up" makes a grisly pun of the title, featuring a blood-red skull and a pile of innards, a visceral exploration of mortality. Other works are more abstract, emphasizing form and color over detail. The result is a brilliant display that stretches the limits of what is usually considered a utilitarian medium, revealing the talents of undergraduate artists.

The exhibit runs through May 9th at the 830 Gallery, located across from the UA Art Museum. There will be an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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