Ashes to Ashes: Religion in Contemporary Ceramic Art

Aug 7th - Sep 24th, 2015

The work of contemporary ceramic artists exploring various religious themes will be on view at The Clay Studio August 7th until September 25th, 2015.  In honor of the Papal visit and the rich religious diversity of Philadelphia the art on view will address a wide variety of world religions. 

Clay has been used to express religious devotion since the rise of civilization, often serving as the only surviving evidence of early cultures’, traditions and religious practices.  Continuing to express religious sentiment in contemporary ceramic art, the work of these eleven artists echoes the history of world cultures through time.

For Justin Rothshank, it is important for his work to reflect his values as a person of faith, as well as his creative process as a person who learns through experimentation. Rothshank’s interest in historic and contemporary iconography led him to the red poppy – a symbol of his faith in peace and opposition to war.

Ibrahim Said’s “Elegy” reflects his faith as a Muslim and his interest in historical Islamic design.  The large scale jugs carved with patterns drawn from historic Egyptian jug filters, display the depth of his skill.  For Said, these jug filters, traditionally hidden in the neck of the jug, represent the beauty within each person.  He inverts tradition, putting the beautiful patterns on display, celebrating the preciousness of every human life.

Ryan Mitchell focuses on ambiguity and paradox, destruction and creation.  His works in Ashes to Ashes present the viewer with a Buddha head, beautiful but partially crushed, and a figure of Pope Francis, covered in white butterflies.  Both are beautiful, but also transmit a sense of despair, the work reflects the positive and negative duality of religion in the modern world.

Inspired by her roots and the events in MiddleEast countries, Karima Duchamp creates pieces that address the effects ofoppression and other acts of violence towards women in the name ofreligion.  After thousands of years,religion is still causing conflicts. She displays oppressed civilians lookinglike warriors fighting for their rights. The figures are camouflaged implying loss of identity due to oppression.The two pieces displayed in the exhibition were created during Duchamps’ GuestResidency at the Clay Studio in May 2016.

Participating artists are: Robert Winokur, Emily Connell, Justin Rothshank, Karima Duchamp, Ryan Mitchell, Ibrahim Said, Ann Chabahndour, Kukuli Velarde, Adam Posnak, Jagdish Pundit, and Nicholas Kripal