Marion Art Gallery to host ‘Contrasts in Clay’ starting Jan. 28

Doug Osborne-Coy
Susan Beiner’s work No Where Stand Here

Susan Beiner’s “No Where Stand Here”

An exhibition featuring two artists who work in ceramics will be on display in the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery from Jan. 28 to March 8.

Contrasts in Clay: Susan Beiner and Kwok-Pong Tso” will feature Beiner’s “wild and unruly” botanical compositions contrasted by Tso’s sleek machines and architectural models. Both artists create objects that are not what they seem, according to Gallery Director Barbara Räcker.

The Fredonia exhibition brings together the artwork of these two contemporary ceramic artists for the first time. Pong will speak about his artwork as part of the Department of Visual Arts and New Media’s Visiting Artist Program on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 8:30 p.m., in McEwen Hall Room 209.

Beiner will present a gallery talk at 6:30 p.m. during the opening reception on Friday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the art gallery. The exhibition is on display through March 8.

The reception, exhibition and visiting artist program are all free and open to the public.

Räcker noted that visually, the works of Beiner and Pong seem very different. Beiner’s installations are ornate while Pong’s sculptures are minimal. Yet, the artists cross paths conceptually. They challenge viewers’ perceptions with their mysterious objects and strange juxtapositions, and they both investigate the relationship of humankind to nature.

Beiner writes, “Though industrial materials are my base, my final works emanate the organic and therefore refer to the tension between the manufactured and the natural. The most recent concerns in my work deal with making what is organic synthetic.”

art work by Pong
From Pong's “Moment of ‘Re’inventing - Culture Assembly”

Pong’s recent work “explores the relationship between nature and the weight of our materials in the form of man-made landscape.” He is inspired by “something that is recognizable but has an uncertain function” and, like Beiner, he asks the viewer to look closer.

The exhibition includes five wall installations and a pedestal piece by Beiner. Her largest installation is the nine panel “Synthetic Reality,” which is 96 inches long. All of her woks are primarily porcelain and date from 2008 to 2019.

Pong is represented by ceramic vessel forms from his “Repress” sub-series, mixed media (clay and plexiglass and wood) objects from his “Tool Made Tool” sub-series, and more complex “faux machine” installations. All are part of his “Moment of ‘Re’inventing - Culture Assembly” series and date from 2016 to 2019.

Beiner's work has grown from her interest in 18th century European porcelains. She began to render their elegantly painted surfaces in three-dimensional layers of encrusted form and color. She explores the relationship between the increasingly disparate realms of the natural and man-made by building opulent surfaces covered with natural and fabricated objects such as shells and nuts and bolts. Pong is known for his elegant abstract sculptures that at first appear to be strange architectural agglomerations or “fictional science” objects that look like highly technical, futuristic machines.

Beiner received an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.F.A. from Rutgers University. She has taught at Arizona State University since 2006 where she is currently the Joan R. Lincoln Endowed Professor of Art. Among her numerous residencies are: the Experimental Pottery Workshop, Jingdezhen, China; CRETA, Rome, Italy; Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel; International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary; Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Mont.; Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygen; Wis.; The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, Pa.; and the Guldagergaard International Ceramic Center, Skælskør, Denmark. 

Pong was born and raised in Hong Kong and decided to come to the United States to continue his education while exploring cultural differences. He completed his B.F.A. at Northwest Missouri State University and in 2013 he received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Pong is currently an assistant professor of Art at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. He was named a Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist in 2014 and National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Emerging Artist in 2016. Pong spent two summers as a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation and has exhibited and published internationally and nationally including in China, South Korea, Romania, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Funding for the exhibition, reception and publication is provided by the Cathy and Jesse Marion Endowment and the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund, both of the Fredonia College Foundation, as well as the Friends of Rockefeller Arts Center.

Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Marion Art Gallery is located on the main level of Rockefeller Arts Center and is most easily accessed from the Symphony Circle side of the building.

Contact Ms. Räcker at barbara.racker@fredonia.edu or 673-4897 to schedule a group tour or request a free exhibition catalog.

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