Artist Joan Rosenberg-Dent’s Newest Works
Montecito artist Joan Rosenberg-Dent is exhibiting her award-winning porcelain sculptural art in a few galleries downtown, following her works selected by the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art earlier this year. I met her on Friday, July 5 at her opening at 10 West Gallery on Anapamu, a contemporary multi-artist showcase location. There Joan is showing eleven new sculptural porcelain pieces, including the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art show’s First Honorable Mention winning wall piece titled, “Raw Edges,” eight additional wall pieces and two tabletop sculptures inspired by the renown Japanese artist Kusama following Joan’s visit to Japan.
J. Paul Longanbach, Chair, Museum Collectors Council for the SB Museum of Art, was at the opening and offered his opine of her work: “What I like about Joan’s art is even though it is in all white, she can do more with permutations than anyone. The use of white is neutral enough that it engages shadow as a color and texture.”
We quite agree. The nuance of the various shades of white she obtains in forming and firing the porcelain, leaving it raw or glazed, opaque or transparent, and her design placement of the hand shaped porcelain pieces speak in a new genre of sculptural statement. The larger wall sculptures are unknown amounts of separate porcelain pieces in long wave shapes or rounded bud shapes, mounted with a special adhesive on board painted in the same color. Each has its own emotional expressions the viewer can engage with. There are deliberate playful intellectualism and messages from the artist in her pieces. In “There’s Always One,” a series of small white glazed porcelain buds with one bud glazed black or painted with playful dots; in the six-piece “Metamorphosis” grouping each board has a narrow wire path that leads from a black glazed round or rectangle flat porcelain piece on the bottom, up to a full bloom all white bud at the top; “Ruffle My Feathers” is a horizontal layered grouping of highly textural porcelain strips and three placements of gold leaf triangles on an edge of a strip depicting the wealth of the going through a tough life experience. In knowing Joan’s art for over 10 years, it has bloomed into a new level, more than worthy of a MoMA all white room location in both scope and artist expertise of the medium.
My interview with Joan:
Q. Are these larger works a new direction for your porcelain art?
A. Yes, my porcelain wall pieces have definitely taken me in a new direction. Since my education was from a traditional ceramic point of view, I made objects for the tabletop. Porcelain became my clay of choice, though primarily used for tableware and figurines, neither of which held my interest. Since my work focuses on form and concept, presented abstractly, I saw no need to continue working on small, tabletop pieces. I’ve always wanted to work larger but porcelain has its limitations and I was not willing to compromise.
How did it come about that the works are much larger than when you began to sculpt using the medium?
Sometimes a quiet moment can lead to a revelation. While waiting for an appointment, I sat staring at a flat, blank wall and I imagined putting something dimensional on it to break up the space. (I love anything 3-D.) The next day new forms emerged, starting on a small scale. I then discovered that I could make these forms almost any size by working in parts and putting the parts together. It’s thrilling to know that size is no longer a limitation!
Do you refer or relate to something or someone in the art you create?
My art is visually about form. It relates to my background in dance. When I danced, I became the changing form and was aware of the space around me. In sculpture, my pieces become the forms while I choreograph the spaces around each one. Intellectually, my work is based on a concept-metaphor, and visually relies on light and shadow to complete the piece. Both form and concept are integral to my pieces. This body of work is unique, nobody does what I do. I have taken this beautiful, translucent material into the world of abstract contemporary art. I don’t count or draw what I am going to sculpt. I first work with the porcelain and shape it in various forms with my fingers, fire it and then lay out all the pieces on my worktable. I make more pieces than I may need as porcelain is fragile and you just never know how many will be usable. I have some kind of idea, I just start playing with the pieces, the playfulness and experimentation leads to discovery.
What is the one word you would use to speak about your work in porcelain?
My word would be “form-raw-delicate.”
What is next for your art and when will you be showing it?
Next for my art is a show of 20-25 new pieces at Grayspace Gallery, Tuesday, July 16. I will have the main gallery to present my new work both on the walls, tabletop and on the floor as well. It is called “RazzamaJazz” which relates to the rhythmic patterns in my work and jazz is the inspirational music I listen to in my studio.