PAUL SCOTT | NEW AMERICAN SCENERY

September 13, 2019 - December 31, 2021

Rhode School of Design Museum, Raid the Ice Box Now, Paul Scott, “New American Scenery” 2019, Installation view

“The United States has been very good at projecting an image of itself across the world, marketing its culture and the wonders of its continent,” observed UK-based artist Paul Scott. In the 19th century, images of magisterial landscapes, burgeoning cities, architectural monuments, and prominent nation builders circulated on transferware—pictorial ceramics manufactured in England for the American marketplace. Dreamy and patriotic, these pieces helped to promote a blue-and-white mythology to the newly independent United States.

In the tradition of generations of English artists who created the images on commemorative and souvenir wares, Scott has adopted transferware as a vehicle for a New American Scenery—earthenware platters, plates, and jugs illustrating a vision of the United States for the 21st century. “What I wanted to do was to depict America as I experienced it,” remarked Scott. New American Scenery is a nuanced representation of the American landscape that considers cultural diversity, political upheaval, ecological peril, and the post-industrial economy—updated narratives that strip away the nationalistic imaginary of historic transferware motifs.

 

 

RISD Museum will reopen to the public on June 13 – reservations are required. Check HERE for updates and information.

 

 

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

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

RISD installation photography by Erik Gould. All other photography by John Polak.

In the early nineteenth century, imported Staffordshire blue-and-white printed transferwares formed part of the new media of their age. Collected at the beginning of the twentieth century as iconic depictions of the early, independent United States, many were later donated to public art museums inspiring a new wave of pictorial wares.

Over the last five years, Paul Scott has been investigating these transferwares as well as the contemporary landscape of the United States. An ongoing dialogue between documentary, historical, travel and artistic research has led to the creation of a new substantive body of artwork, New American Scenery.

In it, Scott references archives, objects, the motives, and thinking of original collectors as well as the post-industrial landscapes of twenty-first century America. The new work deals with issues surrounding globalization, energy generation and consumption, capitalism and immigration, and other legacies of history. The artwork includes antique tablewares re-worked by selective erasure, re-glazing, and the addition of newly printed decals. Others involve the re-use of cut, broken fragments using collage and traditional restoration processes, as well as prints and other works on paper.

MORE ON 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 England, Ferrin Contemporary and RISD Museum.

Paul Scott: New American Scenery
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England

New American Scenery showcases the latest ceramic works by the contemporary Cumbrian artist Paul Scott, featuring works of historical transferwares that have been updated for today’s audience.

Scott spent five years investigating early blue and white transferwares that were shipped from Staffordshire to the United States in the 19th century. He works with familiar blue and white ceramics, which were available cheaply so more commonly used than collected, to tell modern stories based on his trips around America. He reworks antique wares, erasing, adding and recreating new patterns by reusing cut and broken fragments or adding newly printed decals.

The exhibition will allow visitors to see the contrasts between the old and new shapes and forms and think about decoration and what it means.

PRESS & PUBLICATIONS

‘Raid the Ice Box Now’ Digital Catalog

Produced by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, 2019

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its exhibition Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol, the RISD Museum is engaging contemporary artists and designers Pablo Bronstein, Nicole Eisenman, Pablo Helguera, Beth Katleman, Simone Leigh, Sebastian Ruth, Paul Scott, and Triple Canopy to create new bodies of work or create a unique curatorial project using the museum as a site for critical, creative production and presentation. Employing the galleries and digital platforms as well as spaces beyond the museum walls, these artists will question dominant narratives and highlight the strengths and idiosyncrasies of the museum’s collection, which includes more than 100,000 works spanning ancient times to the present. A landmark example of artist-curated museum exhibitions, Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol (1970) presented entire sections of objects as they appeared in storage, with little or no connoisseurial regard for their condition, authenticity, or art historical status. It remains one of the most celebrated and subversive exhibitions in contemporary art history.

Raid the Icebox Now is made possible by a lead grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the RISD Museum Associates, Judy and Robert Mann, Taylor Box Company, and a generous in-kind gift from Meyer Sound Laboratories.

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

 

FC IN CONVERSATION | RAID THE ICEBOX: PAUL SCOTT, BETH KATLEMAN, and CURATOR ELIZABETH A. WILLIAMS

Tuesday, June 8, 12 noon
Event open at 11:45 am — log on early to say hello!

For the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s Raid the Icebox exhibition, RISD Museum invited eight contemporary artists and collectives to mine the museum, taking inspiration from objects or incorporating objects into new installations that reconsider how collections can be reimagined. 

Raid the Icebox Now with Paul Scott is on view at RISD Museum through December 31, 2021. The exhibition juxtaposes early 19th century printed Staffordshire wares drawn from the museum’s collection with Scott’s ongoing series New American Scenery, transferwares updated for the 21st century. 

Raid the Icebox Now with Beth Katleman, on view through July 4th, also employs the tropes of the decorative arts to address contemporary issues. Katleman created an ornate, fully immersive period room of more than 10,000 individual porcelain elements that chronicles the transgressions–both real and imagined–of antiquarian Charles Pendleton.

Introduced by Leslie Ferrin, this virtual program brings together Scott and Katleman to discuss their experiences raiding the icebox with curator Elizabeth A. Williams, Ph.D., David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, including an unexpected collaboration that resulted in Scott’s New American Scenery platter, New York from Brooklyn (After Beth Katleman).

PAST PROGRAMS

Lecture & Tour:
Paul Scott: New American Scenery
presented by The Pottery and Porcelain Club
at RISD, Providence, RI
November 14, 2019 from 10am-12pm.
Free and open to the public.
Link to recorded talk HERE.
More information HERE.

Lecture:
Paul Scott, Artist: New American Scenery, Transferwares for the 21st century
presented by American Ceramic Circle 2019 Symposium
at Old Salem Museum & Gardens/Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
Winston-Salem, NC
Saturday, November 9, 2019. 9:30 a.m.
Registration required.
More information HERE.