CONNOR CZORA

OUR AMERICA/WHOSE AMERICA?

2022 | Ferrin Contemporary | North Adams, MA

Our America/Whose America? Is a “call and response” exhibition between contemporary artists and historic ceramic objects. View the historic collection here.


Trenton Vase: Pandemic

2020
glazed porcelain, custom ceramic decals, and gold luster
23.5 x 12.5 x 11″

Trenton Vase: Pandemic reimagines a 1904 vase that showcased the U.S. at the St. Louis World’s Fair, asking how America’s responses to Covid-19 might be represented to the world today. Each side of the vase is adorned with decals digitally collaged from news coverage of the pandemic, ranging from the anti-mask protests that swept the nation to exhausted doctors and nurses overwhelmed with patients. Luster gilds the vase with nods to the pandemic, including coronavirus frames and repeating sine waves of the curve we were supposed to flatten. By combining the authority of imperial ceramics with fragmented narratives of the Covid-19 pandemic, I aim to challenge the idea of a fixed, singular history, and suggest instead that we create history together through our accumulated experiences. As we move forward, how will we collectively remember this tragedy and begin to heal?

Trenton Vase: Uprising

2021
glazed porcelain, custom ceramic decals, and gold luster
23 x 12.5 x 11″

Trenton Vase: Uprising is the second vase in the Trenton Vase series. Created during the ongoing struggle for racial justice, this vase memorializes those who have been killed by American police, and celebrates those who stand up to demand change. Each side of the vase depicts personal photographs from protests for Black lives in Washington, DC after George Floyd was murdered. Photographed while protesting, myself, these scenes position the viewer as part of the crowds demanding justice and emphasize the need for solidarity. The neck of the vase memorializes the 230 Black people killed nationwide by police in one year since George Floyd’s murder. These include the names of people killed by local police in Washington, DC from 2019-2021, including Deon Kay, 18 years old; Karon Hylton-Brown, 20 years old; Terrance Parker, 36 years old; An’Twan Gilmore, 27 years old; George Watson, 34 years old; and De’Andre Johnson, 30 years old. Showcasing the struggle for racial justice amongst imagery of the prison-industrial complex and materials of opulence, I hope to challenge America’s self-portrayal as a shining city upon a hill. How can we dismantle white supremacy and truly become a nation of liberty and justice for all?

Trenton Vase: Disaster

2021
glazed porcelain, custom ceramic decals, and gold luster
23 x 12.5 x 11″

Trenton Vase: Disaster is the third vase in the Trenton Vase series. Created from 2020-2021, this piece responds to the ever-increasing natural disasters wrought by climate change in America. Each side of the vase depicts digitally-fabricated collages of natural disasters in the contemporary United States. Sourced from media coverage of extreme weather events, the collages touch on storms spanning from the rampaging Dixie Fires in the West to the devastation of Hurricane Ida in the East. These storms rage amidst imagery of American extractive industries, including pipelines, oil wells, and the spacecraft that billionaires fly for pleasure. Juxtaposing the wealth of capitalist industry with the devastation it brings, I ask, What are the consequences of endless extraction on a planet with limited resources? Who is held accountable, and who faces the consequences?

59th Inaugural Dinner Service

2021
glazed porcelain, custom ceramic decals, and gold luster
dimensions vary

59th Inaugural Dinner Service combines the language of American presidential porcelain with personal photographs of Washington, DC around Biden’s inauguration in 2021. That January, I was working at my studio in District Clay Center as a fascist mob stormed the Capitol and the national guard was called to occupy the city. These wheel-thrown plates historicize the insurrection of January 2021 through the perspective of an everyday DC resident, contrasting the chaos of historic events with the banality of quotidian life. Appearing as an artifact itself, this dinner service reminds us of the deadly social fault-lines in the United States that we have yet to resolve

ABOUT CONNOR CZORA

Connor Czora is an artist, educator, and activist currently based in Washington, DC. Born in Rochester, NY, they received their BFA in Ceramics and Gender Studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2019.

Czora’s work explores the relationships between imperial ceramics, cultural taste, and sociopolitical power structures in the United States. Tracing the history of Western decorative arts, their work interrogates how ideologies are embedded and perpetuated within cultural objects.

Czora’s art has been shown and awarded internationally, including features in the 2021 NCECA Annual: Social Recession and Time’s Best Photojournalism of 2020. Previously, Czora has assistant-taught at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and interned at Baltimore Clayworks. Czora currently teaches and works as Creative Director at the District Clay Center.

ON THEIR WORK

My work explores the relationships between imperial ceramics, cultural taste, and sociopolitical power structures in the United States. Tracing the history of Western decorative arts, my work interrogates how ideologies are embedded and perpetuated within cultural objects.

Frequently working in porcelain, I draw inspiration from baroque and rococo European and American ceramics. The extravagant forms, overglaze scenery, and delicate gilding of such pieces embody opulence and authority. In my practice, I juxtapose this luxury with the material struggles of the contemporary United States. Exploiting our cultural notion of the decorative as docile, I disarm viewers through ornament to foster discussions of sensitive subjects in communities that may ignore them otherwise. These motifs span from resistance to repressive governments and the commodification of protest movements to the social construction and performance of gender and class.

My methods of making often contrast traditional studio processes, such as wheel- throwing, with expanded media, such as digitally-fabricated ceramic decals. Through these productive disparities, my techniques further explore the thematic tensions that are created and exposed within my work.

Framing contemporary struggles for justice and equity through historical decorative aesthetics, I challenge our understanding of the past and our role in creating a more just
future.