Angels and Animals, 2010, 27 x 18 x 18 inches, porcelain
Barry Bartlett has been exhibited throughout the U.S., most recently in solo shows at the Gary Tatintsian Gallery in NYC; Anna Kustera Gallery, NY and a series of group show -Maryland Art Place, MD, Baltimore Clayworks, MD. Islip Art Museum, NY and the Neuberger Museum, Rotunda Gallery Brooklyn, NY. He is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in the Visual Arts. The work has been reviewed in the American Ceramic and Ceramic Monthly magazines. He is currently a Faculty member at Bennington College, Bennington VT and has taught there since 1987.
"A visit to Bartlett's Hudson valley studio reveals shelves stacked floor-to-ceiling and three deep with used ceramic hobby moulds. Reading their labels, one encounters a kind of found poem: Monk head/ White horse/ Dreams of long ago/ Jesus/ Robert E Lee/ Standing clown/ Eagle/ Elephant cookie jar/ Lighthouse/ Elf. This is just a small fraction of the thousands of moulds Bartlett collected from a craft supplier who was going out of business a few years ago. One might wonder how a serious artist like Bartlett is able to turn such banal, kitschy imagery into meaningful works of art.
Yet Bartlett has been using these hobby moulds as the primary building blocks in his work for the past three years, with surprising effects. "The moulds are like a curse," Bartlett jokes. Beer steins, forest creatures, holiday themes, and religious iconography are the visual vocabulary out of which Bartlett constructs his ceramic sculptures' visual poetry.
Bartlett's work reveals the mutability of images, their susceptibility to reinterpretation, their ubiquity and mystery. It also dares to embrace the most banal forms of the ceramic craft multiple in order to re-appropriate and transform them into unique artworks. The sculptures are so appealing, in part, because they appear to be simultaneously effortless and highly self-conscious. As he navigates the challenges of both medium and content, Barry Bartlett makes ceramic art about politics, while at the same time confronting the politics of ceramic art."
Excerpts from an upcoming review by K E Gover, in Ceramics: Art and Perception
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