‘From Funk to Punk: Left Coast Ceramics’ Opens at the Everson Museum of Art

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Nov. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — This exhibition brings together an eclectic group of artists whose varied aesthetic and conceptual styles capture the evolution of ceramics in California,Oregon, and Washington. It was organized by Peter Held, a longtime curator in the field and acknowledged expert in West Coast ceramics. According to Held, this survey aspires “to track the real and perceived discrepancies between work on opposite coasts of the United States; provide opportunities to experience works by artists who lack broad exposure in the East; and lastly, share his passion for the pioneering and revolutionary artists in the field who challenge prevailing preconceptions stifling the potential of the medium.”

Installation view of “Funk To Punk: Left Coast Ceramics” at the Everson Museum of Art (PRNewsfoto/Everson Museum of Art)

Installation view of “Funk To Punk: Left Coast Ceramics” at the Everson Museum of Art (PRNewsfoto/Everson Museum of Art)

From Funk to Punk: Left Coast Ceramics features a number of pieces from the Everson’s historical collection—the Funk—alongside works by 24 contemporary artists who are inspired by personal artistic vision while cognizant of their region’s history—the Punk. Their examination of place explores an aggregate of geographical, cultural, and familial histories past and present, embedded and examined in contemporary culture. These artists work with unfettered freedom, curiosity, and passion much like their predecessors, paving the way to redefining 21st century ceramics.

Held writes: “The Funk Art movement reflected the deeply held personal, political, and spiritual beliefs of its makers. The counter-culture revolution of the sixties spawned more than anti-war protests, long hair, and flower power. It also impacted all art forms, where rebellion against the status quo manifested new art forms and modes of expression. This movement defined a dynamic period in social, political, and artistic upheaval that was influential in the development of contemporary American ceramics. With roots in Dada, Surrealism, and the Beat ethos of the 1950s, the Funk ceramists shared aesthetic tendencies with parallel movements, including the cooler Pop artists, the California Assemblagists, Neo-Dadaists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, and the Chicago Imagists.

My use of Punk in the exhibition title alludes to the attitudes of successive generations that followed the pioneering Funk artist that continued to challenge authority in the same manner that punk rock birthed in the 1970s. Punk rock and its associated lifestyles criticized the status quo and challenged prevailing cultural and social mores. Punk lyrics were in your face; loud, unapologetic, fearless, and subversive in nature. This rebelliousness was not isolated to music alone; it spawned the DIY, zine, and craftivism movements, alternatives that spawned a new visual aesthetic such as Graffiti art, Neo-Expressionist painting, and graphic design, some which is evidenced in From Funk to Punk.”

With work dating from 1936 through 2017, From Funk to Punk: Left Coast Ceramics documents an 81-year span of West Coast ceramic production, allowing us to examine the significant contributions artists on the “left coast” have made as each successive generation found innovative ways to navigate dramatic swings in studio practice, the marketplace, academia, collecting, and exhibition.

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