For the February 2016 Ringling Underground, I wanted to focus on contemporary Florida artists exploring the medium of clay. Ceramics are sorely underrepresented in the contemporary art scene, as many cling to outdated beliefs that ceramic art falls into the category of craft. Artists Jenn Ryann Miller, Sharon Norwood, and Cheyenne Rudolph are challenging these beliefs by pushing the limitations of the medium through various devices, including abstraction and performance.

I asked the artists to write a brief statement to provide the Ringling Underground audience with some context about the art they will be exhibiting. Read on to hear what they have to say, and check out my interview with Cheyenne Rudolph at Sarasota Visual Art about her durational performance Lemon-Aider. 

Jenn Ryann Miller
Jenn Ryann Miller

JENN RYANN MILLER

My work exists as a companion to the complexities of human nature. It is an expanded exploration of material and the formal elements of ceramics and sculpture. It uses a variety of elements to speak about the function of material in contemporary culture. Abstract sculptures are created to produce accumulative compositions with clay as the primary focus. Through my building processes the identity of the materials are obscured while their expressive potential is exploited. Gestural lines are manipulated by gravity, subverting viewers perceptions created by the banal, suburban color palette. The domesticity of the colors contradicts the organic forms and creates a challenging visual experience. Commonplace, yet disparate, materials are disguised to mimic ceramic. These compositions create a connection to craft, to a superiority of and connection to the hand that contradicts the commercial and manufactured qualities of the materials.

Sharon Norwood
Sharon Norwood

SHARON NORWOOD

Artist Residencies are wonderful ways of getting outside of ones comfort zone, it oftentimes allow for opportunities to work with diverse communities and explore new ways of working. The ROKTOWA series was created during my Artist residency downtown Kingston Jamaica. In this series we worked with the assistance of the local Rosetown potters community to source and fire the clay sculptures. The red clay body was dug from the ground of Kingston’s inner city. Shenice and Andy served as models for the figures. As we talked and exchanged stories, the figures were borne. Each work was completed within a relatively short period of less than a week outside of a protective studio setting.

Cheyenne Rudolph
Cheyenne Rudolph

CHEYENNE RUDOLPH

My work engages in subverting accepted and expected modes of feminine behavior by questioning the etiquette of the mundane. Much of my work places invented functional objects in a domestic context, and assigns sexually provocative implications to ordinary household routines. Paired with installation and interactive performance, my ceramic work re-contextualizes highly specific functional forms that have been forgotten, replaced, or improved upon by modern technology, generally to the aid of the modern homemaker. Centering on issues women regularly face regarding societal expectations, personal identity, and self-sacrifice, my work presents elements of craft, etiquette, and gender as seen through a sardonic lens. It is my intention, through this work, to both satirically illustrate the challenges I face as a woman and actively engage the viewer and participant to consider their role in perpetuating or shifting the dialogue around feminism today.


 

WHAT IS RINGLING UNDERGROUND?

Ringling Underground is a series of one night events combining live music and experimental artworks in The Ringling museum courtyard.

Ringling Underground is a rain or shine event, and is always free for college students that present their college ID.

Ringling Underground is an extension of the Art After 5 program held on Thursdays after 5p.m. Art After 5 allows for a discounted admission for the museum: $10 for adults; $5 for children 6-17, children 5 and under and Museum Members are free.

#RinglingUnderground

Natalya Swanson