Jessica Jackson Hutchins Finds Truth in Clay

29-critics-art.nocrop.w529.h736.2xJerry Saltz at New York Magazine:

Clay reappeared in the art world about ten years ago. Long disparaged as a craft material, it was — like the demeaned paper silhouette that Kara Walker excavated in the early 1990s — something artists turned to in reaction to the processed, slick Jeff Koons–Damien Hirst movement toward jobbing art out to production teams. Clay represented a way to retake ancient territory and techniques and redefine skill with less expensive, labor-intensive, malleable material that takes on aspects of the body. Unlike the navel-gazing, marketable Zombie Formalists, who have also defined themselves by their unslickness, artists who turned to clay and papier-mâché weren’t making tame-looking art about art. Not only does worked clay show the traces of its making; it’s a tremendous support for painting, twisted, smooth, shaped, with insides and outsides, battered, eternally hard but always liquid-looking. Surprises of glazing are built in, the way surprise is built into painting. Women instinctively understood clay as unprotected territory, as they’d seen photography in the early 1980s — something no one cared about, and thus available. Hutchins, Huma Bhabha, Sterling Ruby, Shio Kusaka, Sarah Lucas, and others have made ceramics almost as ubiquitous in galleries as painting and sculpture. Glazed clay is so sexy that it’s become a gateway material for other “lesser” processes, like weaving and embroidery.

Hutchins was a standout in Francesco Bonami’s 2010 Whitney Biennial, notable in part for showcasing more women than men — hallelujah! By then, she’d shown in New York, fantastically, for a decade.

more here.