As a second generation American of Syrian ancestry, while sharing the last name with the president of her grandparents' homeland may be coincidental the affect it has had on her personally and professionally has been significant. The artist's reaction to this recent history culminates at Abmeyer + Wood in her upcoming solo exhibition, Proceed With Caution.
Christa Assad is a ceramist who has been lauded with accolades in recent months, including numerous magazine features, international residencies and being named "2013 Artist of the Year" by Ceramics Monthly Magazine and Pottery Making Illustrated. All of this exposure has made Assad realize that her art can become a soapbox to stand upon. As the conflict in Syria has escalated and captured international attention following the sarin gas attacks used by President Bashar al-Assad, the artist Christa Assad has become compelled to raise awareness to these issues. While on the surface Assad has trouble relating to Sunni-Shiite conflicts in the Middle East (she was raised in a Christian family in Pittsburgh), the strife in Syria has caused her to become more interested in her heritage and triggered a desire to affect change within that culture.
In Proceed with Caution Assad develops a new visual vocabulary immersed in the language of war. Gas masks, grenades and rocket propelled grenade launchers are all represented, but in Assad's case these are miraculously thrown and altered, displaying her virtuoso ability on a potter's wheel. Assad pushes the shocking imagery further with zeppelins and detritus from war that are painted with slip and underglaze and then fired. In Mirroring (2013) a hand-built ceramic "cinder block" (as if a piece of warzone rubble), becomes a canvas depicting soldiers with assault rifles in the midst of battle while other works depict similar scenes of rebel fighters. The Syrian War is just one of many terrifying conflicts in the Middle East. Assad’s work in Proceed With Caution is meant to trigger a humanitarian reaction to warfare. With a vocabulary of symbolic forms and images including grenades, gas masks, drones, rocket-propelled grenades launchers, cinder blocks and caution cones, Assad places a magnifying glass on objects of war and their consequences. Christa Assad received her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University where she was a Fullbright Scholar and then received her BFA from Indiana University. In addition to many prestigious private collections, Assad's work can be found in the collections of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco.
GAS MASK III (2013) stoneware 8" x 9" x 7"
MIRRORING (2013) porcelain, underglaze and glaze 7.5" x 16" x 16"
ANTIQUE WHITE GRENADE (2013) porcelain 5" x 3" x 3"