By Greta Fretts
The Carlow University Art Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the University Commons, will be having its first national exhibit starting this month. The exhibit is the first all-ceramics show to be held in the gallery and it will feature in the broader exhibition that NCECA (the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) will be hosting in mid-March.
The exhibit, which is called “Ten out of Ten,” is being guest curated by Sigrid Zahner, an art professor at Purdue University, whose work focuses on hierarchical systems. For this exhibit, Zahner chose ten college-level art instructors from across the world and had them each choose one person that they felt was underrepresented within the art world in order to feature their work. In total, 20 artists are featured in the exhibit, including Zahner herself. One of her pieces featured in the gallery is called “The Three Branches of Government” and it is, as she describes it, a piece commenting on how today, “[The] government [is] being swallowed up by personal gain and the [rights] that are supposed to be the rights of the people, [are] being swallowed up by the 1% and individuals.”
The exhibit serves to celebrate the work of lesser-known artists and the work of their predecessors. The collection has a variety of styles in it, from more modern styles and techniques, like 3D printing ceramic, to more classical ceramic techniques, like hand-thrown pieces. The juxtaposition of the more classically styled pieces and the more modern-themed pieces are carefully arranged to add a powerful underlying dialogue to the exhibition said Zahner. Adding to this dialogue is the fact that, while it wasn’t an intentional choice, 12 out of the 20 artists in the exhibition are women artists, many from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Sylvia Rhor, art professor at Carlow and director of the art gallery, spoke about the importance of “…disrupt[ing] the artistic space,” by way of featuring so many great female artists and also the general importance of having female voices within the traditionally male field of art. Professor Zahner also added to that point by saying that it is “…very important that [women artists] have the same support system that has helped men.” Not only are many of the artists featured women, but much of the work of curating and setting up this exhibition has been completed by women as well. Included in this group of women is Britney Smith, who is a functional ceramic artist and a student at Carlow. She assisted greatly with the setup of the gallery and the pieces in it. While her work is not featured in this exhibition, it is noteworthy that she is one of these women artists providing a support system for other women, by way of her work on the gallery.
The gallery will be fully complete by mid-February, and the official gallery opening ceremony will be held late in February. Updates on gallery events and upcoming projects can be found on their Facebook page (Carlow University Art Gallery) and their Instagram (@carlow_gallery).