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Christopher Russell: After the Golden Age

January 30 - May 30, 2016 Admission

This exhibition focuses on recent ceramic still-life tableaus by New York City-based artist Christopher Russell. Russell is known for his intricate and realistic depictions of the natural world, including plants, bees and birds, along with fragments of their natural habitats—honeycomb hives and leafy branches. The artist employs hand-built, white terra cotta with a monochromatic yellow-ochre glaze, similar in effect to an ash glaze. With titles like Mean Bird with Apples and Tooth and Claw, the works portray a lively naturalism that does not shrink from representing the contest for survival that challenges wildlife on a daily basis.

Russell has recently complicated these naturalist inclinations by creating allegorical compositions comprised by ceramic iterations of avian life combined with luxe decorative objects, which, in their concentration, constitute a gentle elegy to the “end of empire.” In After the Golden Age, 45 ceramic objects are gathered into a crowded still life of forms inspired by art history and the decorative arts. Among them are a spiky network of obelisks, classical urns with fruit, fragments of antique sculpture, flitting birds, and a rococo nautilus-shell cup. The tableau explores the notions of artifice and material value, a study that is enhanced by the choice of the ceramics medium.

Russell (b. 1961) studied at Wesleyan University and completed residencies at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (North Edgecomb, ME) and Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry Residency Program (Sheboygan, WI). He has had solo exhibitions at Julie Saul Gallery (NYC) and Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, NY). Group shows include venues at Independent Art Projects (North Adams, MA), Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Greenwich House Pottery (NYC), and The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA). Russell received a commission from the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Art for Transit, 9th Avenue Brooklyn station.