On Friday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Bobbit Visual Arts Center held an exhibit of work by Shauna Merriman, a professor of art at Albion College, in the Munro Gallery.
The exhibit traffic went through two rooms across the main floor in Bobbit. The first room held the refreshments. A snack table with various different types of snacks and drinks was set up. For the first time ever, I got to try a macaron. The cherry limeade was not that bad. Attached to this room was the actual gallery.
Walking into the exhibit, there was a small table with a walking guide of the gallery. The guide gave a small description of each of the exhibits. There were seven exhibits in total with the first exhibit being split up into “a” and “b” sections.
Exhibit 1b, titled “Zine Page,” showed a map of the Underground Coal Mines in the Ohio Valley, where Merriman found inspiration and material for her work. Exhibit 1b gives context to exhibit 1a: “Pillar Robbing.”
Exhibit 1a: “Pillar Robbing” was composed of several photographs of ceramics, originally for the exhibition “Material Histories: Cultures of Resistance in Nelsonville, Ohio.” Some of Merriman’s work focused mining history in Appalachia, and “Pillar Robbing” was made with native material from Ohio, commenting on this part of Appalachia’s 200-year history with mineral extraction.
Notably, most of the gallery had more photos of ceramics and clay than actual ceramics and clay. Exhibits 1a, 1b, 3 and 6 were all photographs. Mistakenly, I thought that the exhibit was partially about photography.
Exhibits 3 and 6 are photographs featuring one ton of clay per exhibit. Exhibit 3: “Keller” features one ton of clay from Dresden, Germany. Exhibit 6: “Slide Crash Collapse” features one ton of clay on top of polyurethane foam. It makes sense that these pieces were only photos. Try fitting two tons of clay in any size room on Albion’s campus, it’s not going to work out.
Exhibits 2, 4, 5 and 7 were not photos. They were ceramics in the gallery. All were single pieces, except for exhibit 5: “Legs.” Funny enough, it contained five pieces of ceramics.
All of the ceramics exhibits looked like they were naturally-made. They looked like they were found in a cave and cleaned up for the gallery. The ceramics give the appearance of being organic, yet they still match the titles they were given.
With exhibit 5: “Legs,” for instance, it all looks naturally-made, but the pieces resembled legs. Same with exhibit 2: “Underpinning” and exhibit 4: “Tailing,” both titles are mining terminology, and the pieces looked as if they were extracted from a mine, though their vibrant color would suggest otherwise. Exhibit 7: “Jam” is lost on me though.
Exhibit 4: “Tailing,” 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 the ceramics and clay pieces were made in different ways.
The gallery was fun to attend. The art was interesting and the refreshments were good.