Ball Snake Ball presents objects and installations by a group of emerging and mid-career artists, based in cities and small towns across the U.S., who use clay to confront issues of environmental justice specific to their communities. Many of the artists incorporate locally sourced clay in their pieces to connect the material component of their work to site. The works explore local, regional and indigenous histories of land and water use, occupation, access, and urban development. Within these studies, questions of inheritance and identity emerge, specifically, who has the power to occupy, use and develop our natural environments.
The title of the exhibition references the process by which an individual might dig and process clay, straight from the ground. Approximately 80 percent of the earth’s land surface contains clay. As a rule of thumb, if clay pulled from the ground can be hand rolled into a ball-like shape, and then a snake, and back into a ball again, it passes the test for optimal malleability.
Artists Include: Morel Doucet (Miami, FL), Rachel Eng (Carlisle, PA), Shannon Goff (Detroit, MI), Natalie Kuenzi (Philadelphia, PA), Roberto Lugo (Philadelphia, PA), and Ruben Olguin (Roswell, NM).
“In Bloom (A New Dream)" by Natalie Kuenzi is a work that connects the various places that have been a part of Kuenzi’s life. Three rows of two flower boxes hang in front of a window, each row containing differently-colored porcelain roses whose materials were sourced from both the Delaware River in Philadelphia and the Rio Grande River in Colorado. The flowers are planted in Philadelphia soil along with New Haven ivy, bringing places together through the use of cast off materials. Kuenzi’s other work on display, "We All Have the Sky Series” comprises of several different sculptures composed of materials differing in longevity. Terra cotta, hand dug clay, cardboard, porcelain, and other materials make up her popcorn or cloud-shaped works, which both lean and hover mounted against the white wall.
Commissioned by Artspace New Haven, for the exhibition “Ball Snake Ball”, July 27-September 8, 2018. Images by Jessica Smolinski.