“Reconstitute” exhibit opens Jan. 20

“Reconstitute,” a ceramics and mixed-media installation curated by Lauren Tucci, will be on display from Jan. 20–March 3, in the Peter Paul Luce Gallery in McWethy Hall.

Art sculpture by Gratia Brown
Art by Gratia Brown

The exhibit contains works by Lauren Tucci, Gratia Brown, and Wendy Thoreson. The Department of Art and Art History will host an Artist’s Reception & Gallery Talk with the curator on Friday, Jan. 25, 4–6 p.m.

In the last decade, the ceramic arts have been a rapidly increasing presence, adjusting with and against convention in the eyes of contemporary audiences. “Reconstitute” gathers work from a group of Midwest artists primarily using clay as a medium. The works displayed in this exhibit navigate a separation from allegiance to any particular tradition, deciding instead to use whatever methods or materials that are best suited to the artists’ ideas. Due to the reusable nature of clay, a common task in studio practice is to “reclaim” or reconstitute materials that have been dried, cut, or abandoned in an effort to create anew. This exhibition aims to embody this notion by repurposing fundamental elements and techniques across three distinct avenues within the medium through present-day visual language. 

Art Piece by Wendy Thoreson
Art by Wendy Thoreson

Gratia Brown’s abstract sculptures explore thought lines and celebrate the collection of harmonious debris while challenging clay to become kin to various items. This creates an unsuspecting marriage of materials by pulverizing, bonding, and unifying the fragments into a larger construct.

While the forefront of ceramics is ultimately associated with utilitarian objects, Wendy Thoreson’s wares and ornaments attempt to break the mold by treating the surface of clay much like distressed wood or embellished wrought iron. These objects combine simple forms and exaggerated neo-gothic designs to create sincere works of charm and function.

Lauren Tucci’s narrative scenes invite visual tension within delicate and callous imagery stemming from the deeper subconscious roots in the dream state. Segmented objects are suspended or emerged for the viewer, forcing heavy material against gravity and into stasis, if only for a moment in time. 

Art pieces by Lauren Tucci
Art by Lauren Tucci

With ties to Iowa, the featured artists connected at the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio where they each held long-term residencies. Apart from this shared experience, each has been recipients of numerous awards and distinctions through exhibitions on national and international stages. Brown is an assistant professor of art at Northern State University in South Dakota and has recently shown work at the Archie Bray Foundation. Thoreson, a former instructor at the clay studio at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, is pursuing a post-baccalaureate certificate at Concordia University in Minnesota. Tucci resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she is the gallery assistant and inventory manager at Gilded Pear Gallery and the chair of the Gallery Committee at the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio; her studio is in the Cherry Building in the New Bohemia District.

Luce Gallery Hours: Monday–Friday: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday 2–4 p.m. The exhibit is sponsored by the Department of Art & Art History with funding from the Peter Paul Luce Programming Endowment.