Project Description

A Clay Bestiary

September 27, 2014--January 4, 2015

Discover the many fascinating and fresh ways real and imaginary animals are depicted by artists when A Clay Bestiary opens at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

The exhibition runs from Sept. 27 to Jan. 4, 2015, with an opening reception on Sunday, Sept. 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. About 15 artists will display their work, and Garth Johnson will speak at the opening reception. You can check out a video of the exhibition here:

The exhibition features artists from several countries including Canada, the United States and South Korea. It highlights the work of such renowned artists as Sergei Isupov, Jason Walker and Red Weldon Sandlin, as well as others who are emerging to the forefront in technical mastery, and offering fresh, creative approaches to representing the world of creatures through clay.

Some of the works included in this exhibition are a response to the human tendency to anthropomorphize animals, while other pieces present witty interpretations of familiar creatures, said Hildreth York, who is curating this exhibition with Ingrid Renard. They have co-curated several past Museum exhibitions offering a unique point of view to contemporary trends.

“I don’t think most people have any idea of how variable and unusual works about the animal world can be,” York said. “The works chosen are not ‘literal’ representations or depictions of animals, but artists’ concepts and interpretations.  Some are more representational than others, some are humorous and/or ironic, some are surreal, some are whimsical and some are mini-installations.”

York notes the irony and humor in such works as Rhonda Chan’s Argyle, which depicts a masked and gun-toting argyle rodent. Meanwhile, surreal fantasy takes center stage with Roxanne Jackson’s Sexy Beast. This work – created with ceramic, marbled paper, candles, gold luster and leaf, nail polish and pearl gems – presents a struggle of two highly patterned creatures, one an octopus with flowered tentacles.

The exhibition’s title is particularly apt given the breadth of animals represented: “Bestiary” is defined as an allegorical or moralizing work on the appearance and habits of real or imaginary animals.

Included in this exhibition is Strong, which is part of Isupov’s Humanimals series. Strong stands about 14 inches high, and wears bloomers and a cape and a very determined look on his face. This work and others, including Walker’s complex sculptures and Judy Fox’s other-worldly sea creatures, continue to amaze viewers, York said.

“The artists in A Clay Bestiary stretch the traditions of ceramic animal imagery far beyond the usual conventions,” York said. “The capacity of clay to be medium, form, surface and finished object allows an infinite number of possibilities.”