InLiquid’s newest exhibition, Confluence: Teaching, Making, Ideation and Innovation, celebrates Philadelphia’s rich history of crafts and its current community of crafters. The artists involved work in different mediums, showing that the art of craftwork can be one of the most diverse types of art. Here we look at four of the artists who have work in the exhibition; this is the first in a series of posts about Confluence‘s talented craftspeople.
InLiquid member artist Matthew Courtney received his BS in Industrial Design at University of the Arts in 1984, and then his MFA in Ceramics at Kent State University in 1991. He was the recipient of a teaching fellowship at the Hunt Art Futures Program at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1998. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel. Courtney continues to make clay sculptures that play with the actual idea of “play”. His work examines the dichotomies between “art/play, adult/child, and serious/non-serious” (Courtney, artist statement), and he uses his art as a medium through which he can push past the limitations presented by these pairings. The images he conjures explores his experiences in adulthood and childhood; he takes the whimsy of his childhood and meshes it together with the realities of being an adult. Through this investigation, Courtney creates sculptures that evoke our own memories from childhood and how we have transitioned into adults.
Caroline Gore received her BFA in Crafts with a jewelry focus from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1998 and an MFA at East Carolina University. She also studied at the Opere Jewelry School in Ravenstein, Netherlands. Currently, she is an associate professor/metals coordinator at University of the Arts, but she has also taught at the Frostic School of Art andWestern Michigan University (where she was awarded sabbatical for the 2012-2013 year). The media with which Gore works are very diverse: she practices in drawing, photography, sculptural installations, and, of course, jewelry. The jewelry in Confluence is made mostly of oxidized sterling silver and other metals; metalsmithing is one of her main methods of production. Gore’s jewelry acts as a vessel through which direct and indirect memory can be experienced, activating these memories with a strong sense of place. Though the jewelry can physically travel on a person’s body, it figuratively stays rooted in a specific site in the viewer’s mind.
Susan Hagen’s education in art began in the Midwest: she got her BFA in Sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1980, and received her MFA in Sculpture at Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1983. She is currently an Associate Professor at Bucks County Community College in Newton, PA, and Philadelphia informs her art in a major way. Her wood sculptures are parts of larger narratives instead of being static and isolated. While wood is a medium that dates back centuries and might seem stiff, Hagen’s delicate carving and intricate painting give the wood a new purpose: telling the stories of Hagen’s subjects. Hagen brings the same attention to detail to her subjects, whom we see in poses and activities that reveal their personalities. The viewer can tell that while Hagen can be the master of the specific and the minute, she doesn’t shy away from the big picture so that she may put her portraits in sociological and cultural context.
Mei-ling Hom got her MFA in Sculpture from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1987 and utilized her education to get garner prestigious residencies and fellowships across the country. She won the Pew Fellowship in Visual arts in 1998, a National Endowment of the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship in 1994, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Visual Artist Grant in 2005, and a Fulbright Research Fellowship to South Korea in 2007. She has always used her unique view on American and Asian culture to inform her art, and more recently has been taken with delving into environmentalism with her art. Her interest in the environment and American and Asian cultures intersects with the theme of clouds. Most of her works in Confluence utilize weighty clay or sharp wire netting to represent weightless, delicate clouds. Hom brings these down to earth and shares them with us, the viewers, in an unorthodox yet beautiful manner.