Holly Curcio‘s Forward Fold is in “State of Clay,” the biannual survey show of Massachusetts ceramic artists and sculptors now at the Parsons Gallery, Lexington Arts & Crafts society.
Curcio’s piece, hand built with underglazes, sgraffito, majolica, and oxidation, is relatively small in size —16x10x23 inches—but huge in presence. Curcio’s statement mentions that the impetus behind this sculpture was her despair at the state of current American politics. The bent woman, covered in gem-like blue and white tears, comforted by a watchful cat, is a symbol of deep sorrow.
State of Clay is up until June 3rd.
Holly Curcio’s website
This life-size marble Aphrodite, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, represents the Greek goddess of love and desire, counterpart of the Roman Venus. Viewed through the Roman lens, she is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue.
Originally, Aphrodite would have held her right arm horizontally over her breasts and her left over her pubic region, a gesture that seems to have been a stock pose for sculptures of this goddess.
This piece is relatively recent, from the 2nd century A.D., though Aphrodite’s lineage goes back thousands of years. The combination of fertility and warfare is seen in the ancient Inanna. #Goddess ID
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is crowded with goddesses, and I’ll be posting pictures from a recent visit over the next few days.
This tiny and perfect bronze Nepthys is in the Egyptian wing. Sister of Isis, Nepthys accompanied the night boat of Ra through the darkness. She is usually represented with a headdress in the shape of a house since the literal translation of her name is “woman of the house,” which is not at all synonymous with “housewife.” Nepthys is a nursing mother, sometimes depicted as nurse to the Pharaohs themselves, and mother to the jackal-headed Anubis, lord of the underworld. A mortuary goddess, she is also in charge of festivals and beer. Like many ancient goddesses, her past is somewhat checkered, her roles are many and widely diversified, and well worth further reading.
Kiki Smith‘s Lilith is a lifesize bronze woman mounted on the wall, upside down or right side up (depending on the curator), her gravity-defying pose and white inlaid eyes signifying demonic or supernatural abilities. Associated with Inanna, or Ishtar, the Mother Goddess, Lilith in Jewish mythology may have been Adam’s first wife, although this designation is disputed. In Hebrew-language texts, the term lilith or lilit is translated as “night creatures”, “night monster”, “night hag”, or “screech owl.” Lilith is one of an ancient class of demons…perhaps once rulers or goddesses of the night. #GoddessID
Lilith in the Metropolitan Museum, NY
The marble Hygieia at the Worcester art museum is missing her head and arms, yet still appears graceful and somehow beckoning. From the 2nd century CE, excavated in Antioch, the goddess of health (Greek: ὑγίεια – hugieia) still retains traces of gilding on her long, wavy hair.
Hygieia was one of the Aeclepiadae; the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and the goddess of healing, Epione. Her name is the source of the word “hygiene”. Many neoclassical American sculptors took on this theme, notably Edmonia Lewis.
#GoddessID is where I’ll keep a repository of ancient goddesses in sculpture, like Talakh, a new one to me. Here’s a quote from the label of this relief sculpture, in the Worcester Museum of Art:
“This Nubian masterpiece depicts Prince Arikankharer in a triumphal scene….a winged goddess, incised with the name Talakh, hovers behind the prince and holds a long fan and a cudgel.” So it looks like Talakh helped the prince smite many enemies, like the one lying on the ground at his feet, a dog eating his face. Ouch.
Worcester Art Museum
Nancy Schön, sculptor of the beloved Make Way for Ducklings bronze on Boston Common, is showing new and classic work at the Gallery at North Hill, an assisted-living complex. On view are her series of small-scale Aesop’s fables pieces and life-size animals in bronze. Crow and the Pitcher, a diminutive 6x6x14 inches, is shown below
Ellen Schön, Nancy’s daughter, is a ceramic sculptor who teaches at Lesley University College of Art and Design (LUCAD). Nancy’s hand built, direct-fired ceramic forms are inspired by nature and the landscape. Her transcendent Lotus Pod (above) is smoke-fired clay. The piece references lotus flowers, symbols of enlightenment, and almost seems to hover above its pedestal.
The gallery is open to the public daily from 9am-5pm just inside the main entrance at 865 Central Ave., Needham, MA.
State of Clay is a biannual show of Massachusetts clay artists, and I’m included this year. The show opens May 5 and the opening reception is May 6. Juror was Emily Zilber, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Frances Glessner Lee created her crime-scene miniatures to assist, and in a sense develop, the training of forensic investigators. Using real dollhouse furniture and dolls, the miniatures are, however, anything but toys.
Thwarted in her quest to become a doctor, this Gilded-age heiress constructed tiny rooms from descriptions of real crime scenes, so accurate they contained correct blood spatter patterns. A sculpture series in its own right, the diminutive rooms subvert all notions of domestic bliss. Viewing the doll corpses and wee murder weapons is to enter a dystopian wonderland of murder, suicide, accident, and mayhem.
Exhibited at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC several years ago, where they were the subject of a book, “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” Lee’s pieces deserve a permanent home on public display.
I’m excited to be included in the Boston Biennial 5, opening Today at Atlantic Works Studios. Closing Reception April 22nd.