Surprise Ceramics in A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space
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Surprise Ceramics in A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space

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Surprise Ceramics in A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space

A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space image by Timothy Amundson

Kansas City is about to host National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) a conference that works to engage a community for ceramic art, teaching, and learning.  NCECA is a convergence of the gatekeepers in the national ceramics community. These exhibitions were priming the showcase of local and national artists working within the confines of fine art ceramics, with some breaking those rules completely. As a medium, ceramics has had a tough time with this distinction between fine art and craft. Some relegate the medium entirely to an idea of elaborate plates, cups, or beautiful decorative objects but nothing more. This of course is a myopic viewpoint that doesn’t usually allow for alternative forms to be explored. A Tisket A Tasket is one exploration of how contemporary ceramics can confront this conceptual void and pull us towards a larger conversation about the way we interact with contemporary art as a whole.

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A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space image by Timothy Amundson

Front/Space is a very small two-hundred-square-foot storefront on the west end of the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District. Bringing the street line in through its massive windows, the audience was seen exploring from both sides of the glass. A Tisket A Tasket filled every corner of the space with variably sized crudely taped rectangular cardboard boxes, these nod to the traditional display of ceramic objects, on perfectly crafted white pedestals. The work itself by artists Charity Thackston and Julia Six was a combination of both ceramic, and found objects that created a sampling and repeat of what would be found in a teenage girl’s bedroom. Ceramic alarm clocks grounded space on the pedestals also taken up by painted books, altered found postcards, a peppering of ceramic White-Out bottles, mixtapes, and miniature high school composition notebooks. In the moment of First Friday, I noticed there were already gallery patrons touching the work on the pedestal, normally ceramic work may serve as functional but never touched in a gallery. This exhibition only had four instructions for the viewer; ‘look, listen, pay attention, and choose!’ written on the gallery walls.

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A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space image by Timothy Amundson

When I walked into the exhibition space Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time was echoing over a bluetooth speaker set in the ceiling. I kept exploring the show, opening the notebooks scattered about the floor and pedestals, picking up the multicolored ceramic mixtapes and feeling a little bummed about how these non functional objects reference a media format now starting to calcify in history. Inside of each notebooks were lyrics to cheesy pop love songs ranging in span from the mid 80s to the early 2000’s. The mixtapes and laminated “Blookbuster” video membership cards pushed a humorous failure of our desire to return to the past forward. Exploring the space became like a trip to the old corner video store; pulling titles that seem interesting and reading the backstory to see if it’s worth the watch.

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A Tisket A Tasket at Front/Space image by Timothy Amundson

The importance of A Tisket A Tasket  is the work’s slow read. The objects’ lingering irony may raise the question “why ceramics” but it is this time consuming crafting which allows for the artists’ riff on the status quo of the medium and its continual sobriety to occur. I took my time with objects in the show, in humor thinking how important their function was to us not long ago. It is this controlled slowness of observation with the work that put us back in touch with the slower speed and moment in life we crave.The time in which White-Out was CTRL + Z, alarm clocks were separate from phones, and our inner thoughts or desires were retained on paper notebooks or postcards rather than Facebook timelines. These ceramic pieces by Charity Thackston and Julia Six functioned as takeaways for the audience attending the exhibition, a physical thing rather than a photograph. These found objects that melded with the ceramic work were the guides for the viewer. A new narrative is created each time a composition book is open or any time a book title is read. The importance of read and the slowness of action in A Tisket A Tasket created a new playing field for ceramic objects to exist within.

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