Museum Reception: Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:30-6:00 p.m.
October 20 - December 02, 2011
Echo Chamber is a tandem solo exhibition by two young Danish-born ceramic artists of note. A commonality in their work is that both artists allude to the broad expanse of everyday furnishings and yet are committed to ceramics as a medium to explore the tension between refinement and anti-form. We half-recognize the bowl that Hermann throws on the wheel and the hand-modeled pylon Ruhwald builds but these objects disrupt the traditional categories of ceramic “vessels” and “sculpture.” The artists craft specific objects that allude to a functional form or social habit but one deformed or gone astray. The curious tension in their work is that the Modernist command to “make it new” is done and undone in a counter-intuitive and sometimes humorous vein. The exhibition title “echo” can be read a few ways, in relation to their working methods and identities. The artists are listening to the resonating idealist rhetoric from fifty years ago, specifically when Scandinavian design was valorized as a mythic ethos. Ruhwald and Hermann also work in terms of variation and reiteration, call and response. They are also a couple and, as Ruhwald notes, “we talk a lot about our work but mostly after it has been done.”
Ruhwald has taught at several universities and this exhibition is a reverberation of sorts as it marks a return to Alfred for him and his work, as he was an artist-in-residence during summer school in 2009 when he made some of this work. Both artists completed MFAs at London’s Royal College of Art, Ruhwald in 2005 and Hermann in 2009. Hermann was the studio manager for Edmund de Waal from 2003-2007 and retains a foothold in London as a curator and co-director of Six pm project space. They currently live and work in greater Detroit, where Ruhwald is the artist-in-residence and head of the Ceramics Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Hermann’s work is in the collections of Statens Kuntstfond, Denmark, the Jingdezhen Ceramic Art Museum in China and the Rothchild Collection in the UK. Ruhwald’s work is represented in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK; the British Crafts Council; Detroit Institute of Arts; National Museum of Decorative Arts, Norway; National Museum of Sweden; Danish Museum of Art and Design, Denmark; New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan; and several other public and private collections. They are both currently featured in “Overthrown: Contemporary Ceramic Art” at the Denver Art Museum.
Marie Torbensdatter Hermann
Shades of days, 2011,
ceramic and thread,
h: 6” w: 18” d: 7”,
Photo: Tim Thayer
Chair and Lamp 1, 2010
glazed earthenware, lamp components
Photo: Devin Ferrand