Every day we encounter places, objects, and images that appeal to and at times disturb us. I recently visited the Wildenhain exhibit, located at the Bevier Gallery at the Rochester Institute of Technology and took a moment to truly analyze what I took interest in, what fascinated me, and what seemed to be unsettling or agitating.
Upon entering the exhibit the viewer is instantly confronted with what is absent. There is an absence of sound, of color, and of visual imagery in general. In terms of visuals, the gallery walls lack color as they typically do, and the pieces were placed in what seemed to be an erratic manner with an absence of cohesiveness or flow. As at any exhibit, the artist’s most valuable and visually intriguing pieces are displayed, however, all of the pieces in this exhibit were quite similar. The exhibit lacks those pieces that agitate or disturb the viewer, making them think critically about the artist’s point of view at the time of creation.
The majority of the exhibit was made up of stoneware pieces; however there were three pieces, all watercolors that seemed to be out of place and visually unsettling. There seemed to be no purpose for them at the exhibit and the level of skill seemed to be amateur and lacking. In general, the exhibit lacked a focal point; the piece that every visitor is drawn to, the piece that is the collective favorite. It is clear that this exhibit was constructed for a certain audience, an audience of pottery enthusiasts who notice the details that the novice eye would fail to see.
I do have to admit that my preference of monumental size pieces, typically acrylic paintings, was clearly a bias in examining the exhibit. I have an extensive knowledge of two dimensional forms of fine art and a passion for viewing these pieces, but find little viewing pleasure in three dimensional designs such as those present at the Bevier Gallery. It is perhaps that I have little experience in creating these pieces from start to finish and that I gained little knowledge of the craft when taking a ceramics class. I suppose that if I had created a piece during this course that I was proud and fond of, my biases may be different. Even with my slight aversion to stoneware, I can appreciate the color principles and theories that these pieces, like two dimensional works, must adhere to. These color principles were illustrated through the use of glaze either on the interior or exterior of the pieces.
As a fan of two dimensional works, the signage at the exhibit was perhaps the most impressive aspect. The poster advertising for Shop One boutique was in my personal opinion, the most striking piece at the exhibit. It used color, graphics, and composition to catch the viewer’s attention and gave them the opportunity to take a closer look. The likeness that it had to pop art pieces such as those of Andy Warhol gave those visitors with a preference for this type of work, something to enjoy. Even with this addition of color and visual appeal, I found the exhibit as a whole to still be lacking in visual appeal and allure.