Resplendent in Divergence
by Don Wilkinson
To paraphrase an appropriate Robert Fripp lyric from 1980: “They are resplendent in divergence” — they being the participants in the 2016 Biennial Members Exhibition as selected by guest juror James Lawton, professor of ceramics and director of the Department of Artisanry at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
With over three-dozen member-artists and artisans working in photography, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, fine furniture making, bead weaving, mixed-media work, fiber art, quilt making and other categories, the show highlights the strength, intelligence and passion that grows out of diversity. The participants include “students, emerging makers, mid-career artists and established professionals.”
The work ranges from the utilitarian to the contemplative, from soberingly serious to playfully inane, from touching on contemporary political issues to dealing with household harmony. The art is seductive, the craftsmanship is impeccable and the show is curated in such
a manner that the works play off each other. Imagine a cocktail party in which all are dressed to impress and everyone has a story to tell, a joke to share, an eye to catch or a compliment to offer.
Chuck Sharbaugh’s “Pale Male Soaring,” a handsome table/desk constructed of various woods, tells an urbane tale. The 10 legs of the structure reverberate with an art deco sensibility and seem to reference great bridges and skyscrapers. A complex inlaid patterning on the surface reveals a magnificent cityscape, seen from a much higher vantage point.