What: Overthrown: Clay without Limits
Where: Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., Denver
When: Now until Sept. 18
More info: exhibits.denverartmuseum.org/mm
T wo faculty members from the University of Colorado’s art department, Jeanne Quinn and Kim Dickey, are presenting their ceramic works at the Denver Art Museum through “Overthrown: Clay without Limits” as one of eight exhibitions in DAM’s “Marvelous Mud: Clay Around the World” series running until September 18.
Gwen Chanzit, DAM’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, says that when the idea of putting together a show involving clay and ceramics came up, she realized she had broached a “perfect” concept.
“Clay has been used as far back as we know,” said Chanzit. “It has been used in many ways by different people throughout the generations, and Colorado in particular is a major producer of clay.”
Chanzit spent more than a year tracking down participants for her show, starting with 120 potential candidates before whittling the list to the 25 internationally renowned artists she ultimately decided upon including.
According to Chanzit, the “Overthrown” show is ground-breaking for its being put together in less than a year — a very short time for clay work, she noted. In addition to the time constraint, artists were given the unique task of creating all of their work in a manner that would be site-specific to the museum’s singular architecture.
Artists also went as far as building their own kilns for the show and Chanzit says working with new technology like laser cutters and special computer software allowed the artists to innovate even more.
“This was all important in order to solidify our goal of overturning what people think ceramics can be,” continued Chanzit. “Without exception, these artists were really excited because we were not limiting them in any way, and — since they all know each other — they were eager to work together.”
Dickey, a full professor in CU’s art department, is showing her piece, which she “just finished for this exhibition,” called “Mille-fleur” — a 20-foot-long freestanding wall, fabricated from aluminum and clad with 15,000 handmade ceramic leaves.
“The effect is an illusion of a meadow of flowers superimposed upon a field of sculpted leaves. In invoking a meadow that appears to continue past the confines of this wall’s edge, I hope to dissolve the boundaries suggested by the wall itself,” wrote Dickey.
Dickey added that her fellow participants “are all rock stars. The work each of them produced for this show is the best yet. This is a really important show for that reason and it is a great honor to be in their company.”
Such company includes Quinn, an associate professor in CU’s art department. Quinn’s piece, entitled “You Are the Palace, You Are The Forest,” combines a tree with a chandelier, and in Quinn’s own words “may seem an odd logic. Through the tree and the chandelier I ask questions about how internal and external space meet or converge.”
In an email written this week, Quinn confirms Dickey’s assertion that they have “fabulous colleagues” in this show, writing, “I am delighted that we are all included.”