New Spagnuolo Gallery exhibit melts the seafloor

This week, the Spagnuolo Gallery (located in the Walsh building) opened a new exhibition, “Where the Seafloor Melts,” in which both the ancient and serene are realized by both science and accuracy. The exhibit is constituted of stoneware by the artist Joan Lederman, who, residing in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, incorporated the local influence of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and their deep-sea finds into her artwork through the use of glazes composed of Neptunian muds.

The exhibit opens to the eye as a set of gorgeous plates and vases in both earthen and aquatic colors. The pieces make use of both of shape, pattern, and color: these conventions expressing themselves by way of the kiln.

Coordinates, materials, historical periods and motives are all arranged into the various pieces in the gallery, by way of glaze painted into words around the circular forms. In the heavily earth-toned vase entitled “Amaphora: Mud Pun,” the ancient date (750 B.C.) of a Phoenician shipwreck, from which she incorporated mud, is listed around the neck. Pieces such as this are the first to incorporate ancient, oceanic sands into the glazing process.

Another work that incorporates the location from which the mud came into the art itself is “Mud Blood,” a piece which, encircled by a faint green, is reminiscent of tenth-century Korean celadon, though upon further inspection, found its origin in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, specifically the coordinates 23°5‘ North, 45° West. The viewer is also informed that the mud was retrieved from a fracture site for drilling.

A separate affectation of all of the stoneware in the exhibit is the physical change of the glazes found within the kiln fires, where the glazes ooze, shape, and then harden. From this process, new patterns and colors arise based on the composition of different muds. In the magnificently colored “Reverse Fried Ice Cream,” cerulean blues and a deep purple hue are evoked, but, almost more importantly, are the mosaic-like patterns that were birthed through the spreading and cracking of the glazes during the kilning.

The gallery will host the exhibit until April 1.

Photos: Nick Baker

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