'Emulsion' Opens Jan. 17 at UNL's Eisentrager-Howard Gallery

Amy Smith and Simon Levin, Untitled, 19" in length, stoneware wood-fired to cone 10, porcelain fired to cone 11 in reduction, 2013
Amy Smith and Simon Levin, Untitled, 19" in length, stoneware wood-fired to cone 10, porcelain fired to cone 11 in reduction, 2013

'Emulsion' Opens Jan. 17 at UNL's Eisentrager-Howard Gallery

02 Jan 2014    

Amy Smith and Simon Levin, "Wadi," 9" in width, stoneware wood-fired to cone 10, porcelain fired to cone 10 in reduction, 2013
Amy Smith and Simon Levin, "Wadi," 9" in width, stoneware wood-fired to cone 10, porcelain fired to cone 10 in reduction, 2013

"Emulsion," featuring works by Amy Smith and Simon Levin, will be on display Jan. 17-28 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Eisentrager-Howard Gallery in Richards Hall.

A reception will be held on Friday, Jan. 24 from 5-7 p.m. in the Gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.

Collaborations in the art world are not uncommon, even in the clay world where a stage of creation is often handed to another artist. In these collaborations, one artist might specialize in form, while the other decorates. Rarely seen is pottery that makes room for a piece made by another artist, and the comparison piece also beckons the connection.

Over the past couple of years, Lincoln artist and UNL alumnus Amy Smith and Wisconsin artist Simon Levin have been shipping work back and forth looking to make companion pieces that are compelling and articulate, that remain independent, yet enhance each other, creating a whole that is greater.

Smith's work is cold and crisp, icy and sensuous in an immaculate way. Her pots are calming, whereas drama can overtake Levin's surfaces.

Smith's pots are predominately white; Levin's are all about earth tones and evoked colors.

Despite these strong differences in execution, they have some sensibilities in common. They both love showing off raw clay, and they have a like appreciation for understatement and paired-down elements.

As a touchstone, several pieces of each artist’s independent work will accompany "Emulsion," but the heart of this show is an evolved dialogue of formal elements that iterate and explore ideas and properties of water. Levin and Smith's work made a quantifiable leap forward when they unified conceptual goals, and their paired pieces became layered beyond formal elements.

This makes for a rather rare exhibition because of the tight limitations, often we see themed shows where artists approach a single idea in their own manner and a larger understanding of the concept is evoked. In this case Levin and Smith’s visions are mixed while the flavor of each is maintained, creating something new, unexpected and compelling.

Rims of bowls undulate gently, echoing flame paths and evoking feelings of flow. Icy surfaces contrast warm stony riverbeds between vessel and stand. Droplets, reflected surfaces, and ripples decorate surfaces. Water contained, served, flowing, erosive, static and vibrant is evidenced in each paired piece. Installation of this show will be equally important, iterating the themes of water. A wave of cups and saucers moves across one wall, pieces ripple out from a focal point.

Smith and Levin have been working independently in their studio but jointly in concept. There is a true dialogue between pieces, a literal back and forth of making, refining and developing, generations of conceptual and formal evolution, where mutual intent became layered into the very shape, surface, size and feel of the pieces.

Smith received her MFA from UNL in 2000. She managed Lincoln Clay Studio for six years and has pursued a studio practice alongside teaching since 2001. She was recently awarded the 2013 James Rosenquist Artist in Residence at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. Her website is at amysmithporcelain.com Levin received his MFA from the University of Iowa. He now owns Mill Creek Pottery in Wisconsin, where he and his apprentices work to advance the cause of wood-fired pottery. He recently worked as a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in Taiwan, exploring the potential of local materials. Learn more at his website at simonlevin.com. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 p.m. The gallery is located on the first floor of Richards Hall at Stadium Drive and T Streets. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Department of Art and Art History at (402) 472-5522.