Laurie Goldstein, On a Journey Towards Remembrance (2006), slab-built stoneware, porcelain, glazing, glaze wash [Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA, Mar 25-Jul 15]
Organized by the Ceramic Artists Association of Israel, this travelling exhibit showcases 37 innovative ceramic works chosen from 110 entries at the 2007 Fourth Biennale for Israel Ceramics in Tel Aviv.
Currently on tour in North America, From the Melting Pot provides an opportunity to examine the nature of Israeli ceramics, which differs in many important ways from the myriad of styles produced in North America. The work of the 42 participating artists appears to have a sense of unity informed by locale and cultural identity, with the daily uncertainties of contemporary life in Israel lending a quiet stoicism to many of them.
Within this context, the exquisite pieces presented here range from conceptual to highly personal to purely formal. Many pieces shift between approaches.
For example, curatorial liaison Yael Novaks piece, In Between the Pots, is an arrangement of terracotta forms that invites consideration of the negative spaces between each piece. They recall an Israeli architectural landscape where Arabic dome-covered buildings are juxtaposed with modern highrises.
Laurie Goldsteins sculpture On a Journey Towards Remembrance also evokes a sense of ancient and modern architecture, while Leah Sheves borrows from the conglomeration of Eastern and Western decorative motifs apparent in many of Israels cities for her piece Essence of Ornament.
Unique to this exhibit, the artists were asked to write personal captions for their artwork. This different approach to a task usually done by a curator extends the scope of the show and creates further insight into the political, social and artistic perspectives of the ceramics.