From 3-6 p.m. Friday, the Bobbit Visual Arts Center hosted an exhibition of works by Albion College art professor Shauna Merriman at the Munro Gallery.
Exhibition traffic passed through two rooms on Bobbit’s ground floor. The first room contained the refreshments. A snack table with different types of snacks and drinks has been set up. For the first time, I was able to try a macaron. The cherry lemonade wasn’t too bad. Attached to this room was the gallery proper.
Upon entering the exhibit, there was a small table with a gallery walking guide. The guide gave a small description of each of the exhibits. There were seven exhibits in total, with the first exhibit divided into “a” and “b” sections.
Exhibit 1b, titled “Zine Page”, showed a map of underground coal mines in the Ohio Valley, where Merriman found inspiration and material for his work. Exhibit 1b gives context to Exhibit 1a: “Pillar Robbing”.
Exhibit 1a: “Pillar Robbing” consisted of several photographs of ceramics, originally for the exhibition “Material Stories: Cultures of Resistance in Nelsonville, Ohio. Some of Merriman’s work has focused on Appalachian mining history, and “Pillar Robbing” was made with materials native to Ohio, commenting on that part of Appalachia’s 200-year mining history.
Notably, most of the gallery had more photos of ceramics and clays than actual ceramics and clays. Exhibits 1a, 1b, 3 and 6 were all photographs. Wrongly, I thought the exhibition was partly about photography.
Pieces 3 and 6 are photographs representing one ton of clay per piece. Exhibit 3: “Keller” features a ton of clay from Dresden, Germany. Exhibit 6: “Slide Crash Collapse” features a ton of clay over a polyurethane foam. It makes sense that these pieces are just photos. Try fitting two tons of clay into a room of any size on the Albion campus, it won’t work.
Parts 2, 4, 5 and 7 were not photos. They were ceramics in the gallery. All of them were unique exhibits, with the exception of exhibit 5: “Legs”. Funny enough, it contained five pieces of ceramic.
All of the ceramics on display appeared to have been made naturally. They looked like they had been found in a cave and cleaned for the gallery. The ceramics give the appearance of being organic, but they still live up to the titles given to them.
With part 5: “Legs”, for example, everything seems done naturally, but the parts looked like legs. Same with piece 2: “Underpinning” and piece 4: “Tailing”, both titles are mining terminology, and the coins appeared to have been mined, though their vibrant color suggests otherwise. Piece 7: “Jam” is lost on me though.
Exhibit 4: “Continued”, is of interest. I briefly spoke to the artist about it. Merriman said she used a powder instead of glaze on the piece before firing it, explaining how ceramic and clay pieces are made in different ways.
The gallery was fun to attend. The art was interesting and the refreshments were good.