SACRAMENTO — The Crocker Art Museum presents Rob Barnard: Pottery as Pure Art which will be on view July 21 through Oct. 20, 2013. Featuring 39 objects that span 20 years of Barnard’s artistic career, this is the first exhibition devoted to his production.
This exhibition introduces to a wider audience the ceramic art of Barnard, one of the leading practitioners of wood-firing pottery. Barnard studied art at the University of Kentucky, where he gravitated to working in clay, especially making functional objects. After graduation Barnard traveled to Japan as a research fellow at the Kyoto University of Fine Arts where he was mentored by clay sculptor Kazuo Yagi, one of Japan’s most influential ceramic artists and known as the father of modern Japanese ceramics. Under Yagi’s instruction, Barnard gained a new perspective on the idea of art versus craftsmanship; he learned that the artist’s reason for making is as important as the object made. This focus on the artist’s intent and the value of critical looking exerted a lasting influence on Barnard.
After four years in Japan, Barnard returned to the United States with a mature sense of purpose and new resolve. He prefers the Japanese-style anagama kiln, a single chamber kiln with a sloping tunnel shape, for his wood-firings. It requires a mastery of the firing process, but the kiln never eliminates chance conditions that produce the effects so vital to Barnard’s aesthetic. He embraces the irregular and displeasing, often developing tensions in form that are meant for the viewer to resolve. Final results encompass subtle lusters, drips of glaze, and flashes of color that draw the eye to the vessel’s surface. Barnard has taken his love for ceramics to the Catholic University of America in Washington where he is currently a lecturer in ceramics.
Rob Barnard: Pottery as Pure Art exclusively features works collected by Rob and Josseline Wood, who gifted their collection to the Crocker Art Museum in 2010. Barnard also has work in the collections at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, American Craft Museum and the Everson Museum, among others.