Broken Open: Sound / Word / Object
Cameron Crawford + Elise Ficarra + Evelyn Ficarra
January 17–February 10, 2019
Reception with the artists: Saturday, January 26, 6-8pm (poetry at 7)
Gallery guide and price list
Breaking Art Review in the Chico News & Review
We live in what Philip Fisher, an art and literature critic has called “a culture of creative destruction.” “Broken Open,” a related contradiction in terms, examines the broken and the open, revealing that the act of breaking can create an opening to a new form or meaning. Three artists working in different media demonstrate the results of breaking and opening.
Evelyn Ficarra, a composer and sound artist, focuses on the objects that make sounds, showing us in her installation how sound may inhere in the object even when not immediately audible. She wires sounds into objects and shows that in broken objects the sounds yet inhere as they both remind us of their original sounds, and visually suggest the sounds of their breaking. Ficarra prompts us to listen with our eyes as well as our ears.
Ceramicist Cameron Crawford is known for his creation of classical forms broken open to represent their disintegration and also for his use of them to reveal the contemporary with newer forms and colors spilling out of them. Here, in his new work, he incises the surfaces of plates, platters and cups cutting into the smooth, white-clay surface, images of his commentary on contemporary events. The coloring and narrative quality of the images recall the frescos of ancient civilizations, while the subjects and drawing techniques are distinctly contemporary. The domestic economy inherent in plates and cups is transformed, as these objects become drawing surfaces to record a larger, often political economy, moving their significance to a broader context.
Poet Elise Ficarra often writes in response to visual art. In this exhibit her words supply the sounds emitted by Evelyn’s objects and the ambient sounds in the gallery. A self-described “forager,” her poems, which she will read at the reception, are often composed of scraps and bits and fragments which she makes into shifting wholes. The poem ‘Vessel,” which appears in part on the invitation card represents her contribution to this show. It offers images of the essential wholeness, which survives and surpasses the attempts to break and crack both vessels and the women who carry them. Breaking can be, especially in contemporary culture, a frightening thing: the breaking open of earth to extract fossil fuels, the clear cutting of trees in our forests, and the rupture of conventions that once held us in a circle of civility.
Broken Open offers in sound, word, and object another version of this process and reasserts that destruction can be creative. In the cracks, the breaks, the interstices, when the war-dragon sleeps, art is made and remakes us. “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Raised in New York City, Cameron Crawford received a BA in Art from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the University of Washington. He has taught ceramics at California State University, Chico since 1995 and has presented lectures and workshops around the United States. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, the Taller Cultural in Santiago, Cuba, the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, and the Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany. His work has been featured in regional, national and international exhibitions, including most recently American Clay at the Museu de Ceràmica de l'Alcora in Castelló, Spain.
Originally from Chico, Elise Ficarra is a poet and educator who lives and works in San Francisco. One of the underlying impulses of her poetry is the question of how to live in this world, and the nature of the individual consciousness compelled to pursue this question. Her work interrogates the nature of experience that is at times fractured or fracturing. She is drawn to methods and chance operations to surface material that would not be arrived at via a direct route, such as divining words from books and signs, writing in response to visual art, playing with sound, rhythms, tapping into mythic elements, history, and current event. Proceeding at times through juxtaposition, broken or interwoven narratives, she is curious about how shards and fragments recombine into unexpected meanings and affinities. She is author of Swelter,winner of the Michael Rubin book award. Her poetry and other writings have appeared in various print and digital publications. She has an MFA in poetry from San Francisco State, where she is currently associate director of The Poetry Center.
Evelyn Ficarra is a composer and sound artist. Her work finds expression across a range of forms including music theatre, multi media, installation, dance, film and the concert hall. Throughout her career she has enjoyed collaborative work with choreographers, directors, filmmakers, and visual artists. Her musical ideas are often co-mingled with, or germinated from, extra-musical materials (words, images, sounds) which inform the development and shape of the music and leave their traces in it. In that sense, all her work is strongly interdisciplinary. In another sense, she is thoroughly single minded, hearing all sounds as music, understanding all time based structures (e.g. in film, dance, theatre) as forms of music, looking at all objects as potential sound sources for music. Evelyn is a Chico native and was educated in the UK (University of Sussex BA, MA) and at UC Berkeley (PhD). Recent work includes music and sound score for Listening Creates an Opening’ with Mary Armentrout Dance Theater at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Rensselaer) in Troy New York, and O, One, a five minute robot opera for two Nao robots and cello. Evelyn is currently a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex.
Evelyn Ficarra's Ghost Cup + smashed piano