Big Clay

November 16, 2013 - October 3, 2014

Clay is a material that is often associated with small objects: porcelain figurines, dainty cups and saucers, salt and pepper shakers and the like. But this represents only one approach. Big Clay shows that when artists think big, clay takes on a big personality.

The large orb by University of Regina professor, Ruth Chambers, is a case in point. The sphere was part of her 1994 MFA thesis exhibition in which the artist created an astounding 130 ceramic orbs. Not content with this achievement alone, she moved the orbs from site to site, installing them in the CMS metal yard, Grasslands National Park, her front yard and Maple Leaf Swimming Pool. The orbs themselves were roughly constructed and glazed using a soda firing method which accentuated the uneven surfaces. The aggressive presence of the spheres points to a different relationship to objects made of clay. These are not small, domestic objects, but things big enough to hold their own in a prairie field, a scrap yard or even a swimming pool.

Throughout this exhibition, the viewer is invited to consider clay on scale beyond the usual. Selected from the MacKenzie Permanent Collection, the works in the exhibition highlight scale as one of many choices open to ceramic sculptors and potters. Through contrasts and comparisons between the works presented, it is apparent the amazing versatility of the medium. Whether the intention is playful or serious, the potential of clay to make big statements is unmistakeable.

A permanent collection exhibition organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the City of Regina, and the University of Regina.

Image: Bruce Anderson, Black Snake Moan, 1983 (detail), ceramic 55.9 x 101.6 x 45.7 cm. Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, gift of the artist.