Los Angeles exhibitions. ‘Whistling Water Vessels’ by Brian Ransom. February 28 – April 11, 2015.
OPENING: Artist’s Reception, Saturday, February 28, 6-8pm. GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm.
Couturier Gallery is delighted to welcome back ceramist and musician Brian Ransom, after an absence of 16 years, for “Whistling Water Vessels,” an alluring exhibition of musical instrument clay sculptures. The works in this series visually and aurally explore a symbolic dialogue between archetypal characters imbedded in sexually and emotionally charged innuendos vignettes within the format of a pre-Columbian design known as “jarros silvantes,” or whistling vessels, used by ancient cultures in the Americas. The exhibition will continue through April 11.
Brian Ransom (b. Oregon, 1954) has had a distinguished career as a ceramist and musician. A graduate of Claremont Graduate School (MFA in sculpture) and protégé of Paul Soldner, Ransom also received a Fulbright/Hayes Congressional Fellowship (1978-79) for research on Pre-Columbian musical instruments in Peru. From this experience he began his thirty-plus year investigation building his own clay instruments. A consummate musician, proficient at a wide range of wind, percussion and stringed instruments, Ransom found it essential to make his own vessels to provide the sounds needed for his compositions.
Ransom’s early works were very direct references to the pre-Colombian instruments he discovered in Peru. These included the Whistling Water Jars, Flutes, Kuwikas, Hooters, Rattles, Bells and Drums. The exacting and exasperating challenge of tuning his clay instruments before they are fired was not enough for Ransom. He pushed to create his own aesthetic for these functional objects so that when lying dormant they could serve as compelling sculpture. For this exhibition, Ransom’s investigations led him to develop their particularly unique forms and narratives:
I have done extensive anthropological research regarding these unusual ceramic instruments, and though few certain conclusions may be drawn as to their actual function, most agree that they were influenced by a religious idea known as animism. The concept of animism posits that all objects- organic, static, or ephemeral- are imbued with a life force which runs through them. The addition of water and sound to these sculptural vessels reinforces the unity of this idea.
My approach to making these pieces has been a combination of the formal, playful, and at times darkly humorous, focusing on the sometimes solemn, yet often, capricious nature of human physical and emotional attraction.
In addition to his Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship, Brian Ransom is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He is the founder of the Brian Ransom Ceramics Ensemble with whom he has recorded and performed his own compositions and has lectured extensively. Ransom’s unique instruments may be found in public collections including the Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY; New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University Museum; University of Tulsa Collection, Tulsa OK.