Art Live: Collaborative art

Whether we recognize it or not while viewing it, art has always been intertwined with politics. In a recent Widewalls Magazine article, writer Biljana Puric said this about the two, “Artistic production never solely replicated reality. Even during Realism it had its purpose of showing the brutality or beauty of everyday life to viewers.” And, Robert Rauschenberg once said, “The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.”

The new exhibition, “Evident Truth”, at The Art Trust in West Chester, highlights four ceramic artists who are passionately engaged in social practice art – often described as collaborative and community driven work. They are Philadelphia artists Gerald A. Brown and Isaac Scott, Indiana based Justin Rothshank and Maryland based Andrew Snyder. Snyder, an associate professor of Art at West Chester University and curator of the show said, “When we consider the words of our U.S. Constitution, that all men are created equal, we question as Americans and as artists, through the work on display, whether we are upholding these most basic philosophies established by our founding fathers. It’s no secret that we are in a current climate of great political unrest."

Collaborative Mug by Isaac Scott and Justin Rothshank at The Art Trust

Snyder created an installation titled “Soap Box” specifically for the show, first on view at West Chester University’s Knauer Gallery. He has a few other pieces displayed but he really lets Brown shine here. Brown is a member of the art collective Vox Populi in Center City and a teaching artist assistant with The Clay Studio’s Clay Mobile outreach program. She is also co-founder of the Clay Siblings’ Project, a non-profit initiative providing free ceramic workshops around the country. Her focus is on American constructs of black exceptionalism, womanhood and respectability. “I use ceramic objects, found objects, sound and wall signage to execute my goals. Fundamental to my practice has been creating the sculptural ceramic forms and using the materiality of clay to communicate complex ideas, challenging the viewer physically and conceptually.”

Rothshank’s ceramic work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Among his many accolades he was recognized by Ceramics Monthly Magazine as an Emerging Artist in 2007 and was named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2005. He is a prolific artist with works in over three dozen galleries and gift shops across the country.

Scott is an artist, curator, and photographer. His ceramic work has been exhibited around the country including The Clay Studio and at the 2019 National Conference for Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Minneapolis. Scott’s photographs of the 2020 Uprising in Philadelphia were featured in the New Yorker magazine. Rothshank’s and Scott’s work in the show is a collaboration; through a variety of techniques, their series of mugs and cups tell the stories of activists fighting for change. The show opened January 21st and will be on view through February 26th. Check The Art Trust’s website for information on whether events will be live or virtual and see the show online here.

Gravity by Karen Hunter McLaughlin at CCA

In Montgomery County, a new show titled, “Apart:Together” opens on Sunday, February 7th at Cheltenham Center for the Arts (CCA). This highly anticipated live/virtual show is a biennial spotlighting artists in the “Artessa Alliance” collective. The show’s focus is on how the diverse group of women artists explored their connections to each other, and strengthened ties via their shared community during the year 2020. A variety of art forms will be on view including new works in fiber, prints, and video.

We Have What We Need - Video Still - by Rebecca Schultz at CCA

Some of the artists in the show include Brenda Howell, Julia Way Rix, Rebecca Schultz and Karen Hunter-McLaughlin. McLaughlin, a lead member with the group said, "While we unexpectedly had a lot more solitary art experiences than usual in 2020, we also suffered withdrawal from friends, family and, for us, our artist communities. It created a lot of inertia. Despite that, Artessa Alliance members not only survived but thrived with lots of Zoom calls, texts and emails. In discussions about our work for this show we inadvertently found amazing connections to the art we were separately creating. Through Apart:Together we're sharing our survival.”  Watch here for a zoom link to the virtual reception on February 7th from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The gallery is open by appointment and Sundays. Visit here for details.

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!!


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About Constance McBride

A native of Philadelphia, Constance McBride lived in Arizona for 16 years, where desert observations made a transformative impact on her work as a research based visual artist. Passionate about contemporary art, she was actively engaged in the local arts community. She served as a board member for several art organizations, managed an artist collective/gallery space, curated and juried several exhibitions and wrote for two arts publications in Phoenix. She taught ceramics at Shemer Art Center and Museum and exhibited her work both locally and nationally. McBride returned to Pennsylvania in 2018 and resides in Chester Springs with her husband and two dogs. In West Chester, she serves as a board member at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank and teaches ceramics at Chester County Art Association. She also teaches at Clay on Main in Oley, PA. She is a member of American Craft Council, Philadelphia Sculptors, and Women’s Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter.



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