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Ah Leon: Memories of Elementary School

October 1 - December 18, 2011 Free Admission

Taiwanese ceramist Ah Leon (b. 1953) is internationally celebrated for his masterful transformation of clay into fool-the-eye replicas of tree trunks, branches, and other objects made of weathered wood. He is best known for a 70-foot-long installation of a realistic “wooden” bridge inspired by examples found in rural Taiwan. Ah Leon’s rendering of the texture, patina, and solidity of his subjects is so accomplished that viewers cannot believe they are experiencing clay and not wood. The Daum Museum will exhibit Ah Leon’s most recent monumental ceramic installation, entitled Memories of Elementary School. Twenty life-sized sets of stoneware desks and chairs, arranged in neat rows on a 16-by-32-foot platform, create a phantom classroom that engages viewers in memories of their own schooldays. The artist’s inclusion of carved initials, scratches, and graffiti on the desks’ surfaces imparts an authentic finish, preserving the shared signs of childhood as if they were “frozen in the museum space.” Just as memories can coalesce or fade, the appearance of the desks and chairs ranges from brand new to dilapidated, leaning, and broken into splinters, chips, and nails.