Fragile Vessels: Contemporary Ceramics and the Body

January 24–April 5, 2024

Opening Reception | Friday, February 2, 4–7pm

Fragile Vessels: Contemporary Ceramics and the Body includes work by three contemporary ceramic sculptors, Robert Raphel, Miguel Enrique Lastra, and Maedeh Tafvizi Zavareh alongside historical pieces from Wheaton’s permanent collection and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (L.A.) on loan from Art Bridges. The artists work with figural and abstract representations of the human form while examining the intrinsic connections between ceramics and the body.

Raphael’s Hermae, a series of ceramic phalluses, draw on ancient Greek statues featuring the head of Hermes atop a limbless rectangular column decorated with an anatomically correct phallus. Raphael is fascinated by the magic imbued in these objects which were believed to have apotropaic powers of protection. He makes them for his own protection, the protection of others, and in memoriam for people who could have used protection.

Miguel Enrique Lastra is a queer, Puerto Rican ceramic sculptor and installation artist. Reflecting on the history and legacy of western depictions of bodies in visual culture, he uses ceramics, fiber, audio, and visual coding to expand the array, orientations, and augmentations of bodies depicted in space. Maedeh Tafvizi Zavareh got her BA degree from the Art University of Isfahan and is currently studying at RISD. She is interested in the life within and the activation of clay and its communication potential as a means of activist and Oriental expression. The exhibition includes Lullaby, video piece about the uprisings Iran, as well as a ceramic installation, Try to be normal. 

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