The artists of Distributary use the elemental medium of clay to create intriguing, refreshing, and unconventional sculptural pieces that act as contemporary social commentary. All seven artists featured in this show currently live in or have spent substantial time in Manitoba. Their work reflects a range of our urban and rural geography and our lived and imagined experiences. Distributary is curated by Chris Pancoe, with support and mentorship from Sigrid Dahle, and features new ceramic work by Trudy Golley, Carmela Laganse, Grace Nickel, Kelli Rey, Kevin Stafford, Peter Tittenberger, and Lin Xu.
Carmela Laganse’s “Gag” pieces incorporate the aesthetics of and nostalgia for 1950’s culture in two-toned furniture that includes built-in ceramic bowls for vomiting. In a statement about the work she writes, “Although often perceived as disgusting, painful, or shameful, vomiting is an equalizing and shared human experience that can temporarily prompt psychological and physical seclusion.” She pairs this abject and visceral experience with icons of an era that holds widespread fascination, currently being projected back to us through a Mad Men-esque lens, while also questioning how the detritus of that time has shaped contemporary life and consumer culture.
Other works in the show reflect on relationships with landscapes and mindscapes, through porcelain trees, forest-born fairy rings, and figurines of imaginary alien beings born out of fear and mystery (created by Grace Nickel, Kelli Rey, and Kevin Stafford, respectively). The title Distributary was chosen for its definition: a river that branches off of and flows away from the mainstream. Not only is the title appropriate since clay is mostly harvested from riverbanks but also for the way in which each artist chosen for this project has individually branched off of and flowed way from the mainstream, challenging the notions of clay as craft and flowing into contemporary contexts.