director notes

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 | Commemorating Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID | Commemorating Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

ART & THE CANARY SYNDROME

Earth Day 2020

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Commemorating Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary


Today, on Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, while hunkered down in our pods, we are viewing a live stream of powerful images illustrating issues related to the environment and COVID-19. These images are delivered 24/7 via the internet, video, on our phones and the most powerful ones are imprinted permanently in our minds as we try to wrap our heads around this moment. We appreciate, more than ever, the importance of creative work done by artists, photographers, writers, musicians, filmmakers and performers as they fill our days in isolation with beauty and eloquence, and provide truly necessary, brilliant cultural entertainment. While we cannot physically “see” art in person, we are enjoying creative activity of our own and the opportunity to explore culture delivered virtually. It is amazing to watch this lifeline emerge with lectures, classes, and exhibitions – all of it illustrated, scripted and conceived of by creative artists – our “canaries in the mines.”

On Earth Day in 2020, we revisit our 2018 exhibition Canary Syndrome, featuring recent works by international artists from US, AU and UK. Inspired by the saying “canary in the coal mine”, we hypothesized that artists, much like caged canaries once used by coal miners to warn of dangerous gases, are hypersensitive to the adverse conditions and forces that jeopardize human existence. At the time, the exhibition and the works in it focused on climate change and environmentalism. Now, two years later, as a result of COVID-19, we are seeing the shut down of travel delivering clean air to polluted cities and allowing animal migration to resume to their ancestral habitats.

This week in FC News & Stories, we look back at Canary Syndrome and feature works by artists who are considering the environment and man’s impact on the planet we all call home.

Be Safe – Be Well – Stay in Touch

Leslie Ferrin, director Ferrin Contemporary

Life in the Time of Covid
Read MORE here.


Above: Mara Superior, Only One Planet Earth, 16″d, featured in “Nature/Nurture”, Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA


VIEW FULL NEWSLETTER HERE

“The very act of creating provides artists with an outlet for the anxiety caused by relentless exposure to contemporary conflicts. They are compelled to address environmental and societal issues through their practice and are sounding the alarm in the form of beautiful and compelling pieces of art.”

View online exhibition HERE.

The urgency has never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher – we are now in an environmental emergency and a climate breakdown.  We have two crises: One is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The other is a slowly building disaster for our climate.

  • On Earth Day 2020, we say enough is enough.
  • We say we believe in science. We say that everyone can make a difference.
  • We say that the protection of our planet and the wellbeing of the people who live upon it are the top priorities.
  • On Earth Day 2020, we say that we’re committing to vote, we’re registering to vote and we’re showing up to vote.

FERRIN CONTEMPORARY presents contemporary ceramic art for exhibition and sale at 1315 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams, MA; at ProjectArt at 54 Main Street in Cummington, MA and at galleries and museums around the world.

COVID-19 | Closed until MASS MoCA reopens regular hours.
GALLERY HOURS: Wednesday – Saturday 11 – 5:00
+ by appointment
+ by chance

PROJECT ART supports and promotes local and international ceramic art and artists through artist residencies, internships, workshops, studio rentals, events and exhibitions at 54 Main Street in Cummington, MA.


forward to a friend | inquire about a work

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, NOTES FROM DIRECTOR

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID | BERKSHIRE UPDATE | Stories from the World of MASS MoCA

LIFE IN TIME OF COVID
Stories from the World of MASS MoCA


Here in our beloved Berkshires … the museums are closed, performances are canceled and our friends in hospitality don’t know when they can safely welcome visitors again. The people who live and work here are furloughed, their jobs in limbo and exhibitions closed. With performances canceled and galleries closed, MASS MoCA announced 120 layoffs on April 11. Remaining staff salaries had to be cut and plans for reopening remains unknown. Many who work in the creative economy are artists who blend their studio practice with part-time work in the museums, or as educators, freelancers, or jobs in hospitality. While we await the government relief programs for individuals, cultural institutions and small businesses, we hear stories from those who work in the creative economy about coping, adjusting and trying to make ends meet.

We are devoting this newsletter to them, the people we work within the World of MASS MoCA and hope you can offer a little support during these challenging times.

Every little bit helps.

TIP JAR
MUSEUM MEMBERSHIPS
HOTEL CERTIFICATES
EAT & DRINK LOCAL
SHOP FOR ART ONLINE

FERRIN CONTEMPORARY is located in Building 13 on the MASS MoCA campus. The gallery is closed until the museum reopens. Our featured artist Evan Hauser is on view at The Porches Inn also closed.

Take a virtual tour of NATURE/NURTURE at Ferrin Contemporary
Evan Hauser at The Porches Inn and our touring exhibitions throughout the country.

Life in the Time of Covid
read the series in director notes
HERE

Be Safe – Be Well – Stay in Touch

Leslie Ferrin, director Ferrin Contemporary

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, 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

SOUVENIR OF SELMA | PAUL SCOTT | New American Scenery

SOUVENIR OF SELMA | PAUL SCOTT | New American Scenery | MLK | Notes from director, Leslie Ferrin

“Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.”
Martin Luther King, March 25, 1965, Montgomery, Alabama

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, we are sharing Paul Scott‘s “Souvenir of Selma” currently on view at RISD Museum in Providence, RI. The piece is featured in New American Scenery, presented in the newly renovated porcelain room as one of the solo exhibitions in the museum-wide exhibition, “Raid the Icebox Now”.

The central image on the plate was taken on 7 March 2018, when Paul took part in a commemorative march in Selma, Alabama. The annual event commemorates 1965’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ when a group of 525 unarmed civil rights protesters met to promote black voter registration and to protest the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson by a state trooper during a February voter registration march in a nearby city. As the group, including children, marched peacefully across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met with unprovoked brutality as State Troopers, Sheriff’s deputies and a horse-mounted posse attacked, gassed and beat them. Media coverage of the event shocked the world and ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Paul’s plate is a bittersweet ‘souvenir’, though. While the front images act to commemorate the ultimately positive outcomes of the original march, he qualifies it, using a quote by acclaimed photo-journalist Chris Arnade, who asserts that although undoubtedly a symbol of past civil rights victories, Selma’s current state also demonstrates ongoing civil rights failures.

Looking deeper on this day that honors King’s legacy, his speech from over 50 years ago reminds us of what issues remain and the importance of the ballot in this election year.

“Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. (Yes, sir) The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) Like an idea whose time has come, (Yes, sir) not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. (Yes, sir) We are moving to the land of freedom. (Yes, sir) … Let us march on ballot boxes, (Let’s march) march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yes, sir) will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. (Speak, Doctor)

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until the Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until we send to our city councils (Yes, sir), state legislatures, (Yes, sir) and the United States Congress, (Yes, sir) men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march. March) until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Yes) until all over Alabama God’s children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor.”

 

Click HERE  to hear Martin Luther King’s speech in Montgomery, March 25, 1965.

Scott’s Cumbrian Blue(s), New American Scenery, Souvenir of Selma, AL. In-glaze screen print (decal) on salvaged Syracuse China with pearlware glaze, 30cm dia. Paul Scott 2019.

 

 

PAUL SCOTT: New American Scenery

 

New American Scenery  juxtaposes early 19th-century Staffordshire ceramic transferwares drawn from the shelves of the RISD Museum storage with new artworks by Paul Scott, Cumbrian Blue(s). Replacing the porcelain works typically on view in the newly renovated Lucy Truman Aldrich gallery, New American Scenery melds historic printed tablewares, altered antique ceramics, and reclaimed Syracuse China plates with new screenprints updating early transferware subjects for the 21st century.

New American Scenery is first presented in Raid The Icebox Now at RISD Museum, Providence RI from September 13, 2019- September 6, 2020.

New American Scenery will be presented in an expanded exhibition at Albany Institute of Art & History, Albany, NY from September 16, 2020- January 3, 2021.

RISD Museum, Providence, RI
in Raid The Icebox Now
on view through September 6, 2020.

Click HERE for more.

ClickHERE to inquire.

 

Photographs of Artwork by John Polak; Interior photography by Erik Gould

 

ABOUT PAUL SCOTT

 

Paul Scott is an English artist who lives and works in Cumbria, UK. He appropriates traditional blue and white transferwares to make contemporary artwork for 21st-century audiences. At the same time, he commemorates and celebrates a rich, complex historical genre that is inextricably linked to wider visual and political cultures. Alturas Foundation supported the creation of New American Scenery as part of its Artist In Residence program. Other funders included Arts Council EnglandFerrin Contemporary and RISD Museum.

 

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, NOTES FROM DIRECTOR