Walker Art Center

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Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay

This exhibition presents significant work in clay by 22 artists spanning four generations. Ranging from modestly scaled pots to figurines to large sculptures, these objects cross a spectrum of conventional delineations among fine art, craft, and outsider practices. Collectively they suggest that clay appeals to basic impulses, starting with the delight of building form, coupled with the anxiety of completion. All of the works on view appear to be in some state of flux or growth. Clay is a base material. From potsherds to porcelain fixtures, clay is synonymous with the building of industries and cultures. At the same time, its very materiality—its tactile malleability, earthen sensuousness, and humidity—makes it the medium of more elemental associations and expressions. The immediacy with which clay allows one to build form and create ornament underlies its appeal—especially in relation to modes of fabrication that seem to take art increasingly out of artists’ hands. More specifically, this exhibition is an opportunity to examine not only clay’s appeal but craft in general. The artists in Dirt on Delight include the current generation (Nicole Cherubini, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Jeffry Mitchell, Sterling Ruby, and Paul Swenbeck), artists who emerged during the 1990s (Ann Agee, Kathy Butterly, Jane Irish, Arlene Shechet, and Beverly Semmes), those who established clay as a critical material during the 1960s and ‘70s (Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, Ron Nagle, Ken Price, Adrian Saxe, Beatrice Wood, and Betty Woodman), and historic and outsider figures (Lucio Fontana, Peter Voulkos, and Rudolf Staffel, as well as George Ohr and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein).

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

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Funding

Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay is originated by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. The exhibition is curated by Ingrid Schaffner, ICA Senior Curator, and Jenelle Porter, ICA Associate Curator with Glenn Adamson, Head of Graduate Studies in the Research Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

ICA is grateful for primary sponsorship from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. ICA acknowledges generous support from William L. True, funding from The Toby Fund, Locks Foundation, Janet S. Kardon, Helen W. Drutt English & H. Peter Stern, Elaine Finkelstein and Vision Fund donors: Dorothy A. Weber & Stephen R. Weber Endowment Fund, Nancy E. & Leonard M. Amoroso Exhibition Endowment Fund, Dorothy H. and Martin N. Bandier Endowment Fund, The Cheri S. & Steven M. Friedman Endowment Fund, The Pamela Spiegel Sanders C’78 Exhibition Endowment Fund established by The Jerry & Emily Spiegel Family Foundation, Inc., Lurie Family Foundation, and Lawrence S. Reichlin. ICA is also grateful to The Chodorow Exhibition Initiative Fund for support of the exhibition’s tour.

The Walker Art Center’s presentation is made possible by generous support from Gary and JoAnn Fink and Harriet and Edson Spencer. Media partner Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

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