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NATURE OF NURTURING | Notes from Director, Leslie Ferrin

NATURE OF NURTURING | Notes from Director Leslie Ferrin

A renewed awareness and galvanizing commitment for change is surging through American cultural and academic institutions, organizations, and businesses of every sort, exposing the crying need for structural change. Specifically, this includes the advancement of equality for artists of all genders, eliminating the sexual harassment, wage discrimination, and the other forms of sexism that continue to affect the lives of women, transgender and non-binary individuals. As part of the movement to reverse and rebalance priorities as well as open new doors, it is crucial to offer opportunities to artists who have been historically marginalized.

Ferrin Contemporary has invited twelve female artists to pause and reflect on the role gender plays in their artistic practice, to consider the impact of the #MeToo movement, and/or to examine how the constructs of gender and gendered behavior impact their personal and professional lives. Nature assigned these artists who identify as female on a given path, whereas nurture is an accumulation of experiences and influences has had both positive and negative impact on their personal and professional lives.

Individual artworks do not always offer specific references to identity through direct content. However, a close look at the career paths in the short biographies and written statements in this exhibition, Nature/Nurture reveals information about how each of these artists – members of several different generations – has sustained her creative practice. The ceramic artworks in Nature/Nurture converge in a dialogue and accumulation of experiences and influences; they reflect on positive and negative forces shaping contemporary female and non-binary identities. Together, through the artwork, statements and biographies, these women artists who identify as female and are at various stages of their careers, convey different experiences defined by their gender, age, geographic and cultural identities.

Mara Superior, Sally Silberberg, Tricia Zimic have had decades-long careers that began before the two youngest, now in their 30’s were born. Unlike the women who began their career in the 70’s, Crystal Morey and Lauren Mabry and others born in the 80’s are already well established with museums actively acquiring important mid-career works. Linda Sikora and Linda Sormin have balanced their international artistic practices with teaching in University programs. As a graduate student, Linda Sikora was unable to attend a program led by a female professor. Linda Sormin, of the generation following, pursued graduate studies specifically with three leading women artists Linda Sikora, Andrea Gill and Anne Currier. Likewise, Giselle Hicks and Cristina Córdova had the advantage of powerful female faculty and confidence that led to independent paths, establishing their own studio practice supported by periodic short term teaching, unhindered by the politics of full-time academia. International artists, Kadri Pärnamets (Estonia), Rae Stern (Israel) and Anina Major (Bahamas)

have located their practices in the USA where residencies have welcomed them, supported the development of their work and proximity to the marketplace.

For the two artists who began their careers in the 70’s, their education took place in institutions with male-dominated programs. As they began their careers, the studio craft movement provided independent economic security and a “workaround” for women whose chosen media, ceramics, had yet to be embraced by the fine art world. For those who followed beginning their careers in the 90’s and until the market crash in 2008, the glass ceiling showed cracks. Women were hired in academic positions, replacing retiring male faculty as programs were rebalanced to achieve diversity.

Starting in the eighties, studio craft was avidly collected by private collectors through fairs, galleries and directly from the artists themselves. The ultimate goal of self-support through sales was viable for a large number of artists but that ended with the recession. For those who began their professional careers at a time when the market system had collapsed, these artists were ultimately fortunate as a new path opened for work in ceramics when the groundbreaking survey exhibition in 2009, “Dirt on Delight” jettisoned ceramics into the broader field of contemporary fine art in the USA. In addition, the explosion of international biennales inclusive of ceramics and craft that provided context for material based artworks in the broader art scene.

This wide acceptance for ceramics and the other female associated media, fiber arts, has settled the Art vs. Craft debate. For both emerging and established artists whose chosen primary material was previously segregated and independent from the mainstream, these new opportunities for their works have begun to balance the gender and cultural gap of representation at galleries and museums. Foundation support for diversity initiatives have had a significant impact through awards for artist fellowships and new scholarship. For those whose work took the form of vessels or studio pottery, a new generation of curators have embraced their work by making connections between practicing contemporary artists and past masterworks in the areas of decorative arts and design.

Inspired by the important work of Judith Butler and Helen Longino, the artists in this show were invited to explore the influence of ‘Nature/Nurture’ within their practice. Their work ranges from more direct interpretations of the natural world, to more abstract notions, such as the construction of gender, and endowed role of women.  “Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.” ― Judith Butler, Undoing Gender, 2004

Seen as a whole, this group of twelve women artists who live and work throughout the USA, is representative of the rising tide of professional opportunities. While significant earnings and advancement gaps remain, a course correction is underway through the increasing number of gender and culturally specific exhibitions. As priorities shift for museum collections, educational public programming and private collectors, these efforts to course-correct are bringing recognition to artists previously overlooked and undervalued and to undocumented legacies. Nature/Nurture seeks to contribute to and further this recognition.

Leslie Ferrin, director Ferrin Contemporary

NATURE/NURTURE
a group exhibition of twelve contemporary female artists invited to explore the influence of gender and its impact on their practice.

Read the NATURE/NURTURE series

NATURE/NURTURE | Group Show of 12 Women Artists
LESLIE FERRIN | Director Notes | Nature of Nurturing
CRISTINA CORDOVA | Nature/Nurture | PBS Craft in America – Identity
GISELLE HICKS | Tiles & Vessels | Teaching Online in the Time of COVID19

LAUREN MABRY | Nature/Nurture | Cylinders & Flow Blocks
ANINA MAJOR | Nature/Nurture | No Vacancy in Paradise
CRYSTAL MOREY | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions
KADRI PÄRNAMETS | Nature/Nurture | Small Matters and Roots & Pollinators
LINDA SIKORA | Nature/Nurture | On Nurture: Our Social and Political Spaces
MARA SUPERIOR | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions
RAE STERN | Nature/Nurture | In Fugue
TRICIA ZIMIC | Nature/Nurture | Sins & Virtues

READ MORE HERE.

MORE ON THE ARTISTS

*ADDITIONAL ARTIST PROFILES BEING COMPOSED AS THE SERIES UNFOLDS*
CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON:

Giselle Hicks
Sally Silberberg
Linda Sormin

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, News, NOTES FROM DIRECTOR
LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID | Notes from Director, Leslie Ferrin

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID | Notes from Director, Leslie Ferrin

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID | Leslie Ferrin, director

 

 

We are thinking of you, our artists, colleagues and friends.

Wherever you are, and hopefully safe, we are all experiencing the new reality of living in a profoundly changed world. We’ve been hearing of so many challenges in day to day life, fear of exposure, loss of employment, constant worrying for loved ones and managing varying degrees of long term isolation.

Last week, our third in quarantine, our particular struggle was complicated by a surge in internet demand within our small, rural community that is still without broadband service and suffers from chronic, spotty cell service. Due to social isolation, we must now use the internet for everything we do, to work, to make purchases, to stay connected with distant family, and to provide access to online school for our youngest resident, Roosi Isupov. We live in rural America where we can take daily walks and never see another soul. We feel fortunate to be where we are and continue what we do given the limitations of remote work. Our inconveniences pale when we connect with those in urban hot spots who are living densely, surrounded by incessant 24/7 wailing sirens and alone. Together we will get through this with you and our artists who are resilient, determined, creative. We will remain connected to one another through our shared support of art, culture and empathy for one another.

Now that we are past the initial shock of closures, exhibition postponements and cancellations, we are doing what we can to keep our team and artists working. With any luck, SBA payroll relief will ease the way and allow us to maintain and expand communications with regular news and stories about contemporary ceramic art. Using all the available online skills and tools in our toolbox, we are committed to staying connected with you and sharing stories about our artists, their exhibitions, our museum colleagues, our gallery partners and our community in the Berkshires. Through our mutual interest in ceramics, we find ourselves interconnected, in the studio, in our homes, and in making and seeing beauty in little things; and empathy abounds.

Artists by nature, work in isolation and have the skills to meet the challenges of social distancing. We are hearing amazing stories from our artists who are using their skills to sew, fix, repair, plant and shape the world around them. Through Instagram, we see their works in progress as they prepare for future shows.

Collectors are using this time to take on long term, large scale organizing, digital documentation, considering gifts to museums, reading and learning about the artists whose works they own and finding room for a future purchase of long admired work of art. Our team of specialists are experts in working remotely and happy to help navigate the digital challenges.

Curators are finding new ways to share their knowledge digitally, through guided tours of closed exhibitions, inclusive online live classes like the ones Garth Johnson from the Everson Museum of Art and is doing where you get to go behind the scenes with colleagues and snoop around the shelves with Jeffrey Spahn as he explained Asian influence on the work of American Studio Potters and a focus on Karen Karnes.

The slow down at Ferrin Contemporary and ProjectArt gives us time to pace the work we do. We are in the middle of the long procrastinated project of organizing the library and archives gathered over our 40 years of exhibitions. Starting with bookshelves, we ended up renovating the studio for future workshops and resident artists. We are planting a huge garden and finding ways to maintain friendships with those who live both near and far. All of us are cherishing what we have and what we can give to those in need.

This week’s news and stories continue our focus on the twelve women artists in NATURE/NURTURE with Crystal Morey. We congratulate her and Shane for their first baby girl, Isla born in January and know that it has given her a new perspective on the role of nurturing and a welcome distraction from the outside world.

The NATURE/NURTURE series
NATURE/NURTURE | Group Show of 12 Women Artists
LESLIE FERRIN | Director Notes | Nature of Nurturing
CRISTINA CORDOVA | Nature/Nurture | PBS Craft in America – Identity
LAUREN MABRY | Nature/Nurture | Cylinders & Flow Blocks
ANINA MAJOR | Nature/Nurture | No Vacancy in Paradise
CRYSTAL MOREY | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions
ANINA MAJOR | Nature/Nurture | No Vacancy In Paradise
MARA SUPERIOR | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions

READ MORE HERE.

Be Safe – Be Well – Stay in Touch

Leslie Ferrin, director Ferrin Contemporary

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, News, NOTES FROM DIRECTOR