To kick things off, to make myself more comfortable with this space, I'm going to start posting my own writings from my first year of graduate school at OCAD. Some formal, some not, but each addressing a specific facet of art, craft, craftivism... basically topics that interest me.
I first saw Zimra Beiner's work, Dark and Still, at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto during the RBC Emerging Artist People's Choice Award 2014 Exhibition (they really need to work on the name). Immediately, I knew, this is my piece. This is the piece I'm going to write about. Do you know what I'm talking about? You'll enter an exhibition space and you'll see it, out of the corner of your eye and you instantly know, that is the piece I will love the most. You'll take your time to get there, because delayed gratification is sweet. You'll pause in front of other works, valid works, beautiful works, though provoking works, but you can feel it pulling at you, feel it humming behind your back. I was genuinely interested in the work of the other "emerging" ceramicists (what does that even mean? ...young. Young is what that means.), particularly the organic and sprawling sculptures of Jess Riva Cooper and the multi-media sculpture by David R. Harper (who, apparently, continues to emerge, as he is one of the five featured artists in the same 2015 exhibition. I'll also be posting, shortly, a quick write up on another piece of his, Better the Devil You Know). The point is, I took my time getting to Dark and Still because I knew I would enjoy it.
At this point, I'm clearly revealing my bias toward a certain kind of ceramic sculpture. Big, bulky, slightly abstracted, free-standing sculpture that is near monochromatic and often shows the hand of the maker. MMM. I love it. It reminds me of Trey Hill's work (again, huge bias as he was my undergrad professor) or some of Jessika Edgar's sculptures.
I wrote a paper for an Academic Writing and Scholarly Practice that examines the notion of Freud's uncanny in relation to ceramics as well as establishing the notion of the "viewer-body" as it relates to ceramic sculpture.
(I think it goes without saying, but don't be a jerk and rip it off, cite me if need be.)
Mary Callahan Baumstark is a maker, writer, and researcher with an M.A. in Contemporary Art, Design, and New Media Art Histories from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. She is interested in trendspotting in contemporary ceramics and organizing socially engaged or activist projects. She is the current Resident Art Historian for the Socially Engaged Craft Collective.