The Village Theatre and Art Gallery's latest exhibit explores the history of one of the world's oldest known crafts and its relationship with modern technology, offering a tangible way of experiencing new and old debates over art and mass production.
"From Sand to Silicon Chip" is guest curator John Toki's means of bringing to life the themes and questions raised by his academic work as a ceramics professor and textbook author, highlighting the artistic work of more than 10 people who don't necessarily all consider themselves artists.
The exhibit, which debuted on Jan. 21 and runs through the middle of March, comes several years after Marija Nelson Bleier, visual arts coordinator for the Village Theatre gallery, met Toki and discussed his work during a past clay exhibition in 2018.
In the latest edition of his co-authored textbook "Hands in Clay," Toki includes a new chapter on ceramics and technology, which led him to explore the topic from an academic angle and seek examples of work that incorporates the ancient craft with modern technological advances.
"The argument sometimes is 'oh no, will the art value be lost when you can print things in clay? But honestly no, because it always does start with the designer," Bleier said.
Toki seeks to make this point clear, she said, with the exhibit incorporating a range of recently developed hardware and software in making and mass producing clay pieces by designers, engineers, and architects who he sees as exemplifying the blending of old and new forms of craftsmanship.
"Most of these artists he already knew," Bleier said. "Some of them consider themselves designers or architects or engineers."
She noted that this meant that for many of the featured artists, the exhibit offered a rare opportunity for them to showcase their work outside of a professional setting.
"I think some of the artists in the show were excited because if you design for a housewares company, maybe you're not used to seeing your work in a gallery," Bleier said.
The recent opening reception saw many of the featured artists in attendance to discuss their work, and educate a full house about their use of technology.
"We had a really good turnout," Bleier said. "The gallery was completely full and I think that in general people were really happily surprised at the kind of things we have on display here, because it's really a show about art meets technology."
One popular example, she said, was a 3-D clay printer that attendees were able to watch in action at the reception.
"Attendees got to watch an entire vase be created, which was really cool, and we also had different pieces that the 3-D printer made that had already been fired and glazed on display," Bleier said.
Along with seeing the process of a vase being formed by machine, attendees were invited to learn about the process behind creating the pieces on display, such as a bust that was created by scanning a person's face with an iPhone and using the 3-D technology to create a clay figure.
"There's a lot of learning you can do at this exhibit," Bleier said.
She noted that with clay being one of the oldest and most long-lasting materials on earth, this includes history of the craft and the impact of technological advances on its uses, design, and production.
"We do have a couple of traditional pieces on view, just to kind of give you this idea and appreciation for the aesthetic of this really old hand blown vase and you can kind of see the progression of when technology is introduced," Bleier said.
In addition to bringing his academic work to life, Bleier said that the exhibit serves as a way for Toki, who has deep roots in the ceramics world, to reach a wider audience with contemporary themes.
"John Toki comes from a family of ceramic artists and he's exhibited in a variety of places and worked with many ceramic artists, and I think he wanted the opportunity to do something different that would appeal to wider audiences," Bleier said. "He kind of wanted to do something that would show them visually the ability of how technology can make an impact on the arts."
"From Sand to Silicon Chip" is on display at 233 Front St. in Danville through March 18. More information and gallery hours are available here.
on Feb 3, 2023 at 9:45 am
on Feb 3, 2023 at 9:45 am
Having just read the article on the clay exhibit at the Village Theatre, I would like to know what hours and days one may attend, and when it is open to the public and what the cost is for admittance.