RE: Configuration

> by JACK FORAN

It’s a world of white at Indigo Arts Gallery.  Snow and ice in dessert mold and the like forms—like an arctic beach sandcastle community—in photos by Kathryn Vajda, and pristine white porcelain dysfunctional but exquisite pots and other vessels by Bryan Hopkins.  

Hopkins calls them “pots about pots.” Ceramic constructions that reference the functionality core quality of traditional craft art mainly by way of subverting it to focus instead on purely aesthetic aspects and possibilities.  

His list of influences that inform and affect the work includes contemporary urban environment, modernist architecture, Chinese Song Dynasty ceramics, nineteenth-century European porcelain, Bugs Bunny, childhood backyard forts, and the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who studied architecture at Cornell and went on to invent and practice what he called “anarchitecture,” a combination of “architecture” and “anarchy,” indicating a radically different approach to building art.  (A Matta-Clark project he did locally involved the segmental deconstruction in nine parts of a Love Canal house slated for demolition.)   

Hopkins’ bowls and baskets and vases are little architectural creations. Resembling carpentered constructions more than wheel-built pottery. Composed of relatively thick—maybe quarter of an inch thick—slabs of regularly perforated porcelain—so distinctly not watertight, a feature usually required of a bowl or vase—in part or parts of the vessel, and other parts of relatively thin—maybe eighth of an inch thin, by an inch or so wide, by two or three inches long—tiles or panels bearing subtle pattern impressions of whatever material—usually wood, so wood grain—they were formed on or pressed against in a viscous and malleable stage of their making.  

One of the so-called bowls is an amphitheater-like near-full-circular construction with kind of shed-like structure breaking into and extending out from the near-circular portion. None of the so-called vases look watertight, including one six-chamber item, like a cluster of grain elevator silos with added flare-effect horizontal top piece. The functionality of an otherwise plausible basket is frustrated by the occurrence of an odd but intriguing arch construction—like part of a bridge—occupying most of the basket cavity. A so-called tray consists of an upcurving top piece on an understructure support work of elegant arches. Part of a bridge again. In equal measure baffling and beautiful.  

The snow and ice castle photos feature at the bottom of most of them a pool of meltwater.  And where the meltwater is not shown, it is implied. So fantasy world photos in the main, but touching on real world issues from global warming to mutability, mortality, time rules.  

Time and its effects, including color effects, as sunlight or moonlight is reflected from and refracted through the otherwise colorless ice crystals. Many of the photos specify time elements in their titles. Season or month of the year, or time of day, sunset, sunrise, midday, night. Producing lurid reds at dawn and dusk, blues in the night. And sparkle always.  

The Bryan Hopkins and Kathryn Vajda exhibit is called Configuration. It runs until February 28.