Neon knots, ceramic figures, and cast-glass heads lean, reach, bend and fall, contorted or disfigured gesturing simultaneous death and transformation. This series of cast leaded glass busts and figures explore her specific family origins and the broader origins of human culture. Evoking the historical romance of ancient cultures including Greece and Egypt, along with the cultures of Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent and the Near East, Amato derives inspiration from the weight of history. From a young age, Amato developed a respect for patterns of living and healing that connected her to her Spanish, Jewish heritage. Her ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1492 and scattered over the Mediterranean basin where they maintained their particular Sephardic customs.
Amateau Amato is represented by Heather James Gallery in Palm Desert, CA. Her work is in the public collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; The Museum of Art & Design, NYC; Palm Springs Art Museum; Bard College’s Hessel Museum for Curatorial Studies/NYC; Rose Art Museum/Brandeis University; San Francisco MOMA; Chase Manhattan Bank. Amateau Amato’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Artforum, Art in America, Art News, Arts Magazine, and many other periodicals. She has been a writer and curator for fifty years (Preparatory Notes/Thinking Drawings-NYU, Mysterious Messages, Austin TX) and was the curator and editor for the exhibitions and books Couples Discourse, and Uncanny Congruencies, Penn State Press. She has lectured on her work at the Brooklyn Art Museum, The Drawing Center, The Neuberger Art Museum, Paintings Edge, LA., as well as many universities across the US (Chicago Art Institute, Brown University, Claremont Graduate School, NYU, University of Georgia).
Natalia Arbelaez’s work researches undervalued histories, such as, Latin American, Amerindian, and Women of Color. She works with how these identities are lost through conquest, migration, and time, gained through family, culture, exploration, and passed down through tradition, preservation, and genetic memory. Works exhibited are influenced by Peruvian Moche Pre-Columbian vessels and the symbolism of river rituals.
Natalia Arbelaez is a Colombian American artist, born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents. She received her B.F.A. from Florida International University and her M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, with an Enrichment Fellowship. In 2016-2017 she was a Rittenberg Fellow at Clay Art Center; Port Chester, New York and was awarded the Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship that funded a residency to Watershed in Newcastle, Maine. Her work has been exhibited internationally, in museums, galleries, and included in various collections, such as the Everson Museum and The Frederik Meijer Gardens. She has been recognized by NCECA as a 2018 Emerging Artist and was a 2018-19 resident artist at Harvard University where she researched pre-Columbian art and histories. Natalia was recently an artist in residence at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City where she researched the work of historical and influential women ceramicists of color.
Connected ear to ear, check to check, temple to puddle – Choi’s head sculptures present figures in moments of interplay. Where they meet, touch, and just as notable where they don’t, evoke a range of emotions often unresolved and confused. Eyes that don’t meet, gazes averted, lend the figures to emote internal emotions as well as external. Choi’s interest in ambivalence points to the gray areas of being human- things unsettling or uncertain. The artist recounts unsettled situations as an invitation for the viewers to encounter empathetically the emotions of the human forms. Notable for the subtlety in their expressions, the surfaces of the works are muted in color, soft in their brush work, and arresting in their sturdy introspection.
Soojin Choi was born and raised in South Korea, and she has worked as an artist in the United States since 2010. Choi earned her BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015 with a double major in Craft/ Material Studies and Painting/ Printmaking. She continued her studies at Alfred University to pursue a MFA degree in ceramics in 2018. After graduate school, she accepted a residency at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN with funding by Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship. Currently, she is a long-term resident artist at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, MT.
These works by Smith from 2011, emerged as the artist was reflecting on political and racial anxieties churning around us due to Obama’s presidency. These two-sided pieces appear from one angle as monolithic modernist abstractions based on African vessels, and from a second angle, a cut-a-way plane reveals disturbing and dehumanizing caricatures stereotyping African Americans. Titles such as We Did It and Love Lift Us Up, juxtaposed with this hateful imagery, aims pointedly at questions including, Where are we now? What has changed and what hasn’t changed in the United States history of white oppression and racism? What has been reconstructed? Characters such as Lil’ Eight Ball, Boy Thursday and countless depictions of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, and into the present day, work to erase and minimize the monstrosity of American actions including genocide, slavery, and apathy to violence. This year, 2020, racist cartoons and movies are being taken off streaming services (ex: Gone with the Wind, Disney+ removal of scenes from Dumbo, Warner Brothers the censored 11).
Malcolm Mobutu Smith is Associate professor of Ceramic Art at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He earned his MFA from the New York College of ceramics at Alfred University and he studied at both the Kansas City Art Institute and Penn State University receiving where he earned his BFA in ceramics. Smith’s professional activities include workshops, lecturers and residencies including visits to Haystack Mountain School of Craft, Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Maine, The Robert McNamara Foundation also in Maine. His works are represented in numerous private and public collections including the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, FuLed International Ceramic Art Museum, Beijing, China and Indiana State Museum. Other areas of research and lecture interest for Smith include the study of graffiti art and comic books.