Wire-wrapped vase by Mark Gordon

Wire-wrapped vase by Mark Gordon

WILSON, N.C. — The 2009-2010 exhibition season for the Barton Art Galleries begins with Mark Gordon: Recent Works.  The ceramics exhibition will open on Monday, Aug. 24, and will run until Friday, Sept. 18. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Sunday, Aug. 30 from 2-4 p.m. This event is open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

A professor of ceramics at Barton College, Gordon fills the Virginia Thompson Graves Gallery with many of his iconic vessels. Forms in the exhibit, placed on individual pedestals and lining the walls, create a monolithic display evoking a quiet reverence as if in a place of worship.

“Clay is a universal medium; potters’ vessels have formed an essential part of material culture, shared Gordon. “Often, in the vessels, Greek or Chinese forms seem to be echoed in my clay shapes.” Works presented range from more traditional smooth-surfaced vessels to composite, coagulate encrusted versions. In these latter pieces, the surfaces retain a comfortable tension somewhere between chaos and structure. Their forms resemble things one might find in nature, but on the molecular level.

Gordon’s inspiration is often derived from an eclectic mix of nature and plant growth, animal skeletons, machinery, scrap yards and through travel. He sees his artwork as a melding of idea and action, of inspiration and impulse. “I approach claywork as the creation, pulling form out of inchoate matter, as an ongoing experiment in seeking new direction through variation,” Gordon said. “The physicality of clay, along with its remarkable ability to freeze action and respond to physical impact or retain any fleeting impression, immediately and permanently captured my interest.”

From 1980 to 1983, Gordon taught at Altos de Chavón in La Romana, Dominican Republic, creating a vocational workshop for local youth. He later traveled throughout the Mediterranean observing and documenting traditional pottery and brickmaking.  “Knowing these traditional clay artisans has contributed to my education,” Gordon added. “I continue to make ceramic vessels to celebrate and maintain a connection to traditional potters worldwide.”

In contrast to the vessels, Gordon’s installations in the Lula E. Rackley Gallery refer to architecture and industrialization. For Gordon, these works represent fragments, combined geometries, and biomorphic musings. “Geometry, being a form of math, has always served as a universal language for sculpture,” shared Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions at Barton. “Gordon’s use of these pure forms has placed the work in a global context, where many interpretations can be drawn by evaluating the sculptures from different cultural points of view. Influence of his time spent abroad is clearly evident in Gordon’s complex manipulation and integration of these otherwise simple forms.”

Gordon has presented over 100 lectures and workshops in 19 states and seven foreign countries. He has been recognized with numerous awards and grants and has held numerous art residencies across the nation as well as in Caracas, Venezuela; Cairo, Egypt; Madrid, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; and La Romana, Dominican Republic.  In 1991, Gordon was a Fulbright Lecturer at the Facultad de Artes, Universidad Nacional in Obera, Argentina.

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Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations at Barton College, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.

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