For artist Holly Lee, many of the works featured in her new solo exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum hold a special significance.
Art + Design explores the drawings of Gloria Ortiz-Hernández, the ceramics of Lorraine Kisly, and the furniture designs that emerge from their collaborative vision.
Ortiz-Hernández works with a variety of materials including pencil, colored pencil and charcoal. Her drawings on paper in the exhibition and her steel sculptures all have clear references in the design work.
One reviewer noted that Ortiz-Hernández’s drawings — the source and inspiration for much of the work in this exhibition – are complex, multi-layered creations: “One looks at these drawings…but also into them, into their many layers, and into their history,” noted Gregory Volk, a contributing editor at Art in America. “Ultimately, while Ortiz-Hernández’s near-fanatical drawings are all about surfaces, they also have a great deal of depth, both literally and psychologically. . . . How Ortiz-Hernández achieves this look is through exquisite and fastidious control, but the effect on the viewer is liberating and open-ended.”
Kisly works in high-fire stoneware, using both the wheel and hand-building techniques, and her work explores themes of openness, receptivity, containment and compression.
The two artists began collaborating on furniture design when a specific need arose in a studio/living space in Bogota, Colombia. Creating the first piece ignited both artists’ creativity, and other works quickly followed.
Their furniture, while uncompromisingly functional, reflects the same aesthetic concerns that inform their art. Mass, weight, proportion, balance, form, clarity of line, restraint—all these elements engage the deep response of the viewer, and can be seen reflected in the drawings, sculpture and ceramic works.
Striking in their simplicity and sense of inevitability, the furniture pieces present ever-changing facets with each glance, and are works of functional sculpture.
“Their work, based firmly on geometry, does not strain for originality by addition or distortion, but achieves a startling inevitability by taking away the extraneous and revealing the essential,” one observer noted recently.
The two furniture pieces in the HAM exhibition are console tables, Coromoro and Guatavita.
In Coromoro, bands of steel shift perspective as the viewer passes by. The 1-inch elevator bolts are finished in the same patina as the steel and are countersunk into the cherry, relating and revealing the relationship above and below.
With Guatavita, the feeling began with compression, a bite. A right angle of steel corresponds to a right angle below, the wood compressed between them. The steel plate is flush with the ash top.
Ortiz-Hernández’s work as an artist and sculptor can be found in many private collections internationally as well as in the permanent collections of a number of institutions including The Museum of Modern Art and The Morgan Library, both in New York City; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
Kisly has maintained studios in rural Pennsylvania, Bogota, Colombia, and in Clinton over the thirty years since her formative apprenticeship with renowned ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu.
Ortiz-Hernández and Kisly maintained a showroom on Main Street in Clinton, New Jersey, for several years, featuring drawings, ceramics, and their joint design work.
The exhibition runs until April 19, 2020.
Image Credit (From left): Gloria Ortiz-Hernandez, Crossing #3, 2017, Oil, pastel, chalk, color pencils and charcoal on Fabriano paper, 22 in. X 29 3/4 in.; Lorraine Kisly, 2 Blue Towers, 2018, stoneware, 18 in. X 4 in. and 16 in. X 3 1/2.