Thursday, January 6, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Bhakti Ziek and Holly Walker at Chandler Gallery in Randolph

Chandler is celebrating the New Year with an exhibition of two internationally known artists, Bhakti Ziek and Holly Walker in the Chandler Gallery. By coincidence (“a fortuitous one” say the artists), both artists moved to Randolph a few years ago. A mutual friend made an introduction, and a friendship immediately bloomed. Though showing separate bodies of work in different media, they both feel there is an affinity between their works that makes the pairing visually exciting. Ziek is a weaver and calls her new work Continuum and Walker, a potter, has titled hers Haptikos.

Ziek, self-labeled an “urban nomad,” lived in Guatemala in the early 1970’s and co-authored a book on the process of backstrap weaving which she learned there. Fast-forward to the early 1990’s, and Ziek is a college professor in a program for textile design, with access to state-of-the-art digital electronic looms. Backstrap to digital jacquard is just one of the continuums that inform Ziek’s work. She is also interested in the way language, necessary for communication, imposes artificial divides between continuous processes.

She says, “I am thinking about the changes that a person goes through from birth to death, the difficulty of glimpsing the baby when observing an octogenarian. There is no container that separates one part of our lives from another, yet the continual flow from one moment to the next yields profound change, especially when you take a panoramic view on life.”

“In order to make sense of our lives, we continually break the continuum down into concepts of time (days, weeks, months, years, seasons) and values (good, bad, right, wrong, introverted, extroverted) that delude us into thinking that we really understand how things are. Here is the paradox: language gives us the ability to name (separate, identify) things and communicate with others through these labels, but through the process of differentiation we can also cause the breakdown of communication. So if I call myself a fiber artist, and you do too—we can embrace in camaraderie. Now I say I am a weaver and you say you are a quilter. Do we find the shared interests or do we go into two different rooms looking for peers?” continues Ziek.

“The process of weaving, taking hundreds of individual threads, and combining them into a cohesive plane, is the physical manifestation, as well as the perfect metaphor, for how we build our lives from multiple identities and interests. Weaving doesn’t always yield narratives, but in my work, the resulting collage of images and words are attempts to define what it means to be a weaver in our times. With continuum, I hope the finished series will add up to more than the parts, but I also want each weaving to be able to exist wholly on its own. If the concept of “weaving” can be a metaphor for the individual as well as for community, can my physical weavings achieve the same allusions?”

Walker makes hand built pots by pinching up each layer of rolled coil to build form. Haptikos refers to the sense of touch and tactile feedback, something she experiences in the slow, rhythmic process of pinching, that allows her time to envision a piece while working.

Walker says, “I enjoy the directness of touch with pinching, and the quality of light on the dimpled surface. My first studio pursuit was in painting, and I approach the surface of a pot as a painter, brushing on multiple layers of colored slips and glazes. When looking at a finished piece, I like to see back through the layers to the beginning of the process. I aim for the speed, the pulse, and the tempo of making to be revealed in the pot. Experiencing the clay as a living material keeps each piece fresh for me”.

“The materials I am most drawn to are clay, food, and soil and plants. All are malleable, responsive to direct touch, and impacted by weather and the seasons, and all are of the earth. The physicality of earthenware clay- the image of it eroding and tumbling, washing and settling with organic matter, appeals to my poetic nature. Earthenware is the common clay; its ubiquitous nature means that it is nearly always nearby or underfoot. Earthenware clay remains open; it can still breathe when fired, and it lends itself to an extraordinary palette of glaze color”, she continues.

“In my studio I aim for a balance of grace, simplicity and playfulness. Beauty and truthfulness are part of my equation. My hope is that each pot reflects the exuberance of making and brings light and joy to the person appreciating it.”
The work will be on view in the Chandler Gallery in Randolph, Vermont, from January 8 through February 20, 2011. Gallery hours are Thursdays, 4-6 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 1-3 pm or by appointment by calling 802-431-0204.

An opening reception will be held Saturday, January 8, 1-3 pm and an exhibition walk-through with the artists takes place on Sunday, January 16, 1-3 pm. Individual talks about their works will be presented by Ziek on Sunday, January 30 from 1-3 pm and by Walker on Sunday, February 13 from 1-3 pm. In case of bad weather, please contact the Chandler Gallery at 802-431-0204 for snow dates. All events are free and open to the public. Chandler is wheelchair accessible.

Images: Night Sky by Bhakti Ziek, Palette Curry by Holly Walker