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March 26 - April 20, 2019
Dairy Barn Arts Center
Athens, OH

Five featured artists dealing with the themes pervasive in the Anthropocene critically examine how culture rages a path of progression without considering the ripple effects of consumerism/and or capitalism.  One of the included artists, Tara Daly, expands on the role of the artist as, “to continue to seed a conversation of transition and to perpetuate the feeling that is our responsibility to share what we know, and knowing it, respond.”

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March 12-17, 2018
Unsmoke Systems Artspace. Braddock, PA.

I first heard of the Anthropocene while binging on a TED Radio Hour podcast while working in my studio. As an artist motivated by themes surrounding human culture and its dissonance with nature I was inspired by a featured speaker on the show, author Emma Marris, who “wants us to broaden our definition of nature to one that embraces urban and wild spaces in order to learn and protect and care for it.”  With this hopeful outlook and upon further research, I envisioned a show that gave a variety of impressions and perspectives of the compounding ideological shifts of human influence on the Earth.    

The artists included in the exhibition use clay and mixed media to ask the viewer to imagine their surroundings void of architecture, agriculture and technology.  Radioactive elements, plastic pollution, deforestation, carbon dioxide emissions, the extinction of species, mining, raised sea levels and even the abundance of the domesticated chicken are among the few reasons for geologists to consider the possibility that we no longer live in the Holocene epoch, but rather the Anthropocene, an age where human activity has permanently changed the course of climate and dominated natural systems. Through installation and sculpture this exhibition aimed to both shed a refreshingly optimistic light on the Anthropocene, while also revealing the apocalyptic undertones of this era.

How will humans prevail in this new time?  This exhibit was shown in conjunction with NCECA Pittsburgh 2018, CrossCurrents: Clay and Culture. Catalyzing awareness is more important than ever as our society moves forward into unknown political, social and environmental territory. Cultures have survived for centuries, collectively progressing in order to meet their needs, habits and traditions, but not without compromise.  These “symptoms” of culture are confronted by the committed artists through the portrayal of architecture, endangered animals, changing geology, and observations of nature’s adaptation to culture, or vice-versa.  



March 12-17, 2018
Community College of Allegheny County. Pittsburgh, PA.

This exhibition paid homage to the bonds that are made between international mentors and the resident student artist.  The opportunity to work with other skilled artists in your field, especially for the impressionable and vulnerable, still developing, recently graduated BFA or BA student is imperative.  I know this firsthand, as I was one of the first residents at the Cub Creek Foundation, a residency program in Appomattox, VA, and was lucky enough to work with potters from Japan and a sculptor from Korea.  The Resident Director, John Jessiman, was and still is a mentor who continues to facilitate these intersected experiences between culture, people and their art.

The field of ceramics is a unique community - small enough to have a connection to almost everyone, but historically rich and diverse across cultures and processes.  Traveling and experiencing new cultural customs is an effective and educational path to witnessing beauty in humanity’s similarities, while simultaneously processing the differences.  Transcending boundaries through art is nothing new, but is more important now than ever in the divisive political and social climate we are currently experiencing.  The Cub Creek Foundation is committed to fostering cross-cultural learning between its resident students, invited workshop artists and international residents. The rural environment in which the Foundation operates allows for genuine and deep relationships to form. 

Many of the artists selected for this curatorial vision represented an international presence.  The other "half" generated ceramic work in response to, alongside of, and in the spirit of the presence of these intercultural experiences as young resident artists attending the Cub Creek Foundation.  This microcosm of clay artists will forever be connected by the location of their shared experience at Cub Creek Foundation, the intensity in which a residency offers towards the incubation of ideas, and most importantly the notion of community.  No matter where these individuals travel, make or teach, their work shares a portion of the same story.  This confluence of culture, scholastic integrity and experience is part of an important narrative.  Convergence of ideas and aesthetics was evident throughout the work and NCECA 2018 "CrossCurrents: Clay and Culture" was the perfect platform to showcase this intermingling of spirit through clay.

Shanna Fliegel

©2018 by Shanna Fliegel.