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January 17 – June 7, 2020
South Vitrines, Bill Boyle Artport
Clay is an unpretentious and ubiquitous substance used by humans to make aesthetic objects for thousands of years. The earliest excavated ceramics represented mystic cosmologies created to give meaning to the ineffable. Janet Koplos (art critic, USA) discussed in her 1999 essay, Ceramics and Art Criticism how the choice of material gives contemporary ceramic artists a particular distinction. She wrote, “The clay comes first as a precondition.” In other words, material matters.
Expressing meaning through making and material is a hallmark of contemporary craft artists and Amber Zuber’s work exemplifies this legacy. She is highly conscious of the historical, current and cultural meanings of ceramics as well as the aesthetic implications of the work she makes. Her engagement with the material is borne out of research, fluency and intention.
Zuber adopts a spontaneous approach to clay. Describing her process, she says, “I stretch, rip, roll and push the material to collapse and near ruin in search of new aesthetic qualities. The hand of the artist is wholly evident, even aggressively obvious, as my fingers are my primary tools of intervention.”
The attributes of wet clay, plastic and pliable, instigate and inform her repeated gestures. This distinct relationship between her intense physical actions and the material is superbly evidenced in her abstract forms. Her objects reflect a captured moment of raw exuberance; can appear precarious and off-kilter with intriguing anomalous protrusions; and some seem quite fragile with their vulnerable, brittle, paper-like edges. It’s as if emotions have infiltrated the clay; exposed for all to see.
Zuber’s work is the embodiment of the process led artist. In the midst of making, she is viscerally and intellectually connected to her material; endeavouring to represent meaning that cannot be expressed in mere words.