TACOMA, Wash. – The spring semester at Kittredge Gallery opens with two exhibitions focused on ceramics. The primary exhibition in the Large Gallery, I Like Rocks!, showcases recent work by Assistant Professor Chad Gunderson, the art department’s newest member, who joined the faculty in August 2013.
Gunderson’s experimentation with ceramic materials has led him to a unique way of working with clay. His works are sculptural, rather than functional, forms, resulting in solid-glaze objects with pitted surfaces which reference vesiculated igneous rocks (such as pumice), ancient Chinese scholars' rocks, and the brightly colored surfaces of plastic. Gunderson cites as influences Lego bricks, eight-bit video game sprites, and vintage Tupperware, along with his abiding interest in geology. He has said of his work:
The term “natural” can be elusive and ambiguous. Additives can be used in an attempt to augment and amplify flavor, color, and texture. The sculptures I create are deceptive in a similar way; color schemes and surfaces from commercial items have been injected into organic forms, twisting them into something different entirely. … Arbitrarily sculpted by wind, sand, and water, the allure of rocks is converse to the clean aesthetics and deliberate choices of manmade items. With playful naiveté, my work is an attempt to highlight and understand the fringe between these two seemingly opposed objects.
Prior to accepting the position at Puget Sound, Gunderson taught at Bennington College, Vt., as well as Brooklyn College and Arizona State University. He received his M.F.A. from Arizona State University, Tempe, and completed his B.F.A. at Minnesota State University, Mankato. A nationally exhibited artist, most recently he was a part of Earth/Energy, the 2013 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Biennial, and also was selected for the Fourth Contemporary Clay Biennial in Grand Junction, Colo., at which he received the juror's choice award. Other recent exhibitions have included Beyond the Brickyard in 2011, at the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Mont.; the Kirkland Art Center in 2010; The Clay Studio, Philadelphia; the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas; and galleries in Texas, Arizona, and Minnesota.
In 2006 Gunderson was artist in residence at The Pottery Workshop, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China. His website (chadgundersonart.com) also notes: “Despite his master’s degree, he [Gunderson] owns a 96-count set of Crayola crayons and still plays with Legos. Chad also awaits the day that commercial space flight is affordable.”
On view in the Small Gallery is a small group of ceramics from University of Puget Sound’s collection. They are all works that pushed the boundaries of traditional art ceramics at the time they were made, primarily the 1960s through 1980s. The exhibition was curated by Gunderson.
A public reception for these exhibitions will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the gallery. This reception is free and open to the public; Chad Gunderson will be in attendance. A gallery talk by the artist will be scheduled during the run of the exhibition.
Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public. Please note: The gallery will be closed Monday, Jan. 20, for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Jan. 22, 5 to 7 p.m., Kittredge Gallery
Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma
Directions and Map: pugetsound.edu/directions
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday
PRESS PHOTOS are available at pugetsound.edu/pressphotos
Photos on page, from top right: Chad Gunderson, "Specimen 23", 2011, solid-cast glaze; Specimen 32; Specimen 14; Specimen 21 - all courtesy of the artist
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