On March 16, 2020, the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum closed its doors in response to the need to ensure the safety and well-being of the staff, the Alfred University community and the visiting public as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. I began to work from home. Like thousands of other individuals, I experienced a shock to the system, and it took some time to get new navigational bearings. I felt grounded in place yet floating in an unfamiliar new reality. It took time to settle in as my conscious and unconscious mind worked through all the news of humanity’s devastation as an unknown virus spread around the world. Electronic media became a lifeline. As a member of an older generation, I found myself caught inside an inescapable digital frame without a map. I began to wonder more about reality and virtual reality.
Out of this fog of uncertainty one thing seemed clear: communication will never be the same. Human interaction has been shaken and reconsiderations seem inevitable. Virtual communication has established itself concretely beyond expectation. We now inhabit a new world requiring an alertness and attentiveness previously under realized. This, I think, is the positive note at the center of the chaos - a teaching and learning on a massive scale.
The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum has embraced the new urgency of virtual reality by mounting a virtual exhibition. The approach to VR, in this case, is not a video walk through an exhibition or an unfolding series of images of artwork, although both are excellent pathways that the Museum has followed. As its exhibition mission suggests the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum seeks to identify and support the work and vision of all artists regardless of media. Therefore, the Museum has invited four artists - two who work in ceramics, one who works in fiber and one who works in mixed media - to imagine a virtual space based on their studio practice.
Covid-19 has left many artists without studios, without the means to create the work they are known for and certainly without the income their work generates. Therefore, especially at this time of uncertainty, the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum wishes to reach out to artists, confirm their relevancy and offer support within the means at its disposal. Throughout history, artists have shed revealing light directly and indirectly on our universal condition. We count on this leadership to reveal knowledge and understanding.
The Museum invited guest curator, Kelcy Chase Folsom, to facilitate a VR exhibition. Folsom is an artist and educator with unusual savvy regarding the intersection of art and craft - ethos and discourse - ceramic art and artists working in all media. He is particularly aware of a current generation of gifted visionary makers working in ceramics and across media boundaries. The Museum is very pleased to have his advice, curatorial expertise and understanding of the digital world as a guide.
Folsom’s curatorial statement elucidates the premise that reality is a choosing. As we step across the thresholds of binding circumstance, we enter a space of possibility. Possibility is an invitation to imagine –to linger in the environs of a space, an idea, beyond our physical limits. What is to be discovered there? This is a metaphysical question. Reality is ours to question and define. One would hope that this exercise takes into account a reality where compassion and empathy for all of humanity finds a home.
The Wayne Higby Director
and Chief Curator
Alfred Ceramic Art Museum
at Alfred University
Kelcy Chase Folsom, Guest Curator
This exhibition is an initiative by the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum to support, promote, and further sustain artist's practices during the extended time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Full Capacity is a virtual reality exhibition, the first in the museum's exhibition history, centered on dreaming and how we move into and out of the ever-fictitious, picture plane.
I am interested in the two-dimensional experience as it is the fabric of digital communication, one of the few vital links to each other and to new, image-based ideas. When I think of exploration in a digital space, I want to see it all, and Full Capacity invites this notion that space and time are perpetually saturated. It isn't surprising that during this time of isolation, we yearn for objects that tell stories reconfirming life through meaning and memory, emitting a song far from our own. Objects, regardless of intention, are tactile connections to lived reality. They embody desire and provoke informed, experiential communication that fits into our lives.
Reality is relative to the person experiencing it. To try to see what someone else sees can be most rewarding and sometimes most difficult. Art evokes a perpetual, empathetic, activity, an attempt parallel and most present during this time of strife and uncertainty. How will we describe and remember this moment without each other in physical space and to what extent will it change the physicality of art? I am reminded of Jeanette Winterson, an English writer most famous for her writings on human relationships, and her words regarding storytelling and fiction:
"We mostly understand ourselves through an endless series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual worlds are highly colored and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever reality we have chosen to believe in. . . . It may be that to understand ourselves as fictions, is to understand ourselves as fully as we can."
She describes a wholesome understanding of self and each other without limitations, inclusive of fiction- be it exaggerative, sensational, or simply, a lie. Virtual reality suspends and propels us into a place that we've never seen. It's seductive and elusive capabilities offer an extension of what is thought to be impossible, that is closer than previously imagined.
Ryan Mrozowski's painting, Untitled, (Shifted Flowers), is the entrance into this virtual world. I understand Mrozowski's work as a framed version of what I think I witness rather than what I actually see - the assumed image of movement in a moment. Lisa Marie Barber, Diedrick Brackens, Coco Klockner, and Jeanne Quinn were invited to describe a new place beyond the two-dimensional plane of this painting. Using their descriptions and drawings, virtual reality designers collaborated to build four, distinct virtual installations.
Kelcy Chase Folsom received his MFA in Ceramics from University of Colorado Boulder and his BFA from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a resident artist at numerous residencies including the Center for Ceramics in Berlin, Germany, The Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia, and The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has taught at Maryland Institute College of Art, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, The George Washington University, Corcoran College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, and, and Virginia Commonwealth University. He currently lives and works in Stone Ridge, New York. (www.kelcychasefolsom.com)
Lisa Marie Barber
Originally from Tucson, AZ, Lisa earned her BS in Sociology/Art minor at Northern Arizona University (1992) and MFA from the University of Texas at Austin (1998). She is currently a full Professor in the art department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, where she served as department chair from 2012- 2018 and is now the director of the Liberal Studies program. Barber’s aesthetic sensibility is rooted in Central American Folk Art and the Mexican Catholic shrines of her heritage and upbringing in Tucson, Arizona. Her work encompasses imagined conceptions of home, gardens, peacefulness, playfulness, and celebration In addition to exhibiting nationally with over 40 solo/two-person exhibitions to her credit, Barber has held Artist-in-Residence positions at City University of New York, Hunter College; Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis; Watershed Center for Ceramic Art, Newcastle, ME; Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Nebraska City, NE; University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and Mendocino Art Center, California. (www.lisamariebarber.com)
Diedrick Brackens is an LA-based textile artist, originally from Mexia, Texas. Brackens draws from a variety of textile traditions, including elements of European pictorial tapestry, West African strip-weaving and quilts of the American South. Brackens renders his painstakingly woven textiles primarily in cotton, a material inextricably charged with America’s continued history of racialized violence and labor. His oeuvre synthesizes folklore, history and contemporary American life into fantastical scenes where Black bodies engage in moments of intimacy, prayer, and defiant repose. Brackens received his Master of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Studio Museum Harlem, NY among others. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Joyce Alexander Wein Prize in 2018, the Marciano Artadia Award in 2019, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. (www.diedrickbrackens.com)
C. Klockner (b. 1991, Cleveland, OH, USA) is an artist and writer working in New York City. Their studio practice uses sculpture, video, and writing to address the circulation of ideology in its embodied forms, in material culture, media, and bodies. In both full-scale installation and in miniature, objects acquire an abject sense of bodied-ness and become gendered through the adornment of a certain semiotic order, trans by their deviation from recognizable form, and at the mercy of a latent image-industrial complex. Recent exhibitions include 891 n. main, Providence, RI; The Luminary, St. Louis, MO; Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY; and Guadalajara90210, CDMX. (colinklockner.info)
Jeanne Quinn creates theatrical installations that attempt to remind us that everything is ephemeral. She studied art history and baroque music performance at Oberlin College, and earned her M.F.A. in ceramics from the University of Washington. She has exhibited widely, including the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Kemper Museum for Contemporary Art, and Art Basel/Design Miami. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the European Ceramic Work Centre, and others; she has also lectured widely at institutions such as UCLA, Columbia University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is Professor of Ceramics and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado. (www.jeannequinnstudio.com)
Ryan Mrozowski was born in Pennsylvania and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. In 2005 he received his MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. He has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin; Simon Lee Gallery, London; Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles; Arcade, London; On Stellar Rays, New York; Art in General, Vilnius, Lithuania; Pierogi, Brooklyn; and Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles. His work has also been included in group exhibitions at: Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Salon 94, New York; Marianne Boesky, New York; Chapter NY, New York; Practice Gallery, Philadelphia; Ziehersmith, New York; Rhodes College Clough-Hansen Gallery, Memphis; Kansas University Art & Design Gallery, Lawrence; The Kitchen, New York; and more. Ryan Mrozowski is represented by Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin. (ryanmrozowski.com)