Play / House: Works by Claire Joyce and Garth Johnson
Humboldt State University’s First Street Gallery presents Play/House, a collaboration of works by Claire Joyce and Garth Johnson. Featuring a mixture of ceramics, glitter paintings, works on paper and mixed media installations, the exhibition will run from January 31st through March 4th.
Husband and wife Garth Johnson and Claire Joyce live, work and make art in Eureka, California. As they are in marriage, their work is capable of cohabitation—creating an exhibition that will examine the subject of domesticity and the trappings of tradition found both in art making and in marriage.
Viewed and considered separately, Joyce and Johnson’s works appear to be vastly different in approach and technique. When examined in the same space, it becomes apparent that the two artists share a deep interest in challenging and subverting traditional means of producing art and an excitement about how these traditions are reflected in contemporary society.
Claire Joyce creates scenes based on specific images from art history and re-imagines them as comments on domesticity, fertility, and feminine roles. Inserting herself into each splintered portrait of a woman points to both the freedom and weighty responsibility felt in marriage. Rather than executing these obsessive narratives in paint, Joyce chooses glitter to render her imagery. It is not a painting, but an image made from tiny specs of reflective color—though the glitter sparkles and seems to emit light, one cannot escape the fact that it is a frivolous craft material most often associated with sororities, Martha Stewart, and grade school valentines.
Garth Johnson utilizes conventional ceramic forms, such as the teapot, to both embrace and mock imagery and forms derived from ceramic history. In an effort to further examine these common domestic objects, Johnson reconstructs the teapot using casts made from bottles commonly found in contemporary American homes. In his hand mouthwash, shampoo, and syrup bottles become totemic domestic objects, merged with handles and spouts appropriated from silver-plated tea and coffee pots. His practice also revolves around porcelain souvenirs and commemorative objects such as collector plates. In Johnson’s hands, banal plates rescued from thrift shops are transformed into humor—(and occasionally tragedy) laden vignettes of American cultural entropy.
In addition to Joyce’s glitter paintings and Johnson’s ceramic objects, this exhibition will contain a collaborative three-dimensional installation that ties the themes of the two artists together.
HSU First Street Gallery will present a Gallery Talk by the artists on Saturday, February 18th at 3 p.m. The public is invited to meet the artists as they guide attendees through their exhibition. Admission is free to all.
A reception for Claire Joyce and Garth Johnson will be held Saturday February 4th during Eureka’s monthly Arts Alive event. Celebrating its fourteenth year of service to HSU students and to the North Coast community, Humboldt State University First Street Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. and is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is free. Those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead. For more information call 707-443-6363.