Potter inspired by traditional techniques, plastic water bottles

10/22/17 - Albuquerque Journal

Icon, AKA JMS-MHB-2LBR-0913CE-03, 2013.jpg

The charcoal vessel drawings pinned to the studio wall echo memories of petroglyphs and potsherds. But these sketches represent organic forms inspired by 2-liter soda bottles.

Ceramist Jami Porter Lara began sculpting the shapes in clay when a trip to the borderlands between Arizona and Mexico changed her life. After careers in both software design and consumer advocacy, Lara decided to study art at the University of New Mexico at 40. She traveled to northern Mexico and the Coronado National Forest of southern Arizona under UNM’s Art of the American West program to ponder site-specific work.

“We were camped literally a half-mile from the (Mexican) border,” she said. “We were in an area where people were actually passing through."

“It was beautiful. It was mountainous, and there were these giant oak trees and waist-high grasses. I spent a lot time walking around.”

As she hiked the high desert, she discovered artifacts and relics including potsherds, as well as discarded backpacks.

“The main thing I found was 2-liter bottles,” she said. “Sometimes, they were in burlap slings.”

Next the students crossed into Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, where they watched as the potters demonstrated making their famous coiled pieces. The Mata Ortiz pottery was inspired by the artifacts of Casas Grandes and Mimbres designs.

One of the artists displayed a map of North America without national boundaries.

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Kenton Nelson

9/14/17 - Wall Street International


Kenton Nelson was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Long Beach State University and Otis Parsons Art Institute, and for the last 35 years has had his art studio in Pasadena, California. He has been on the faculty of the Otis Parsons Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Nelson traces his interest in painting back to his great uncle, Roberto Montenegro, renowned Mexican muralist and Modernist. The style of Nelson’s paintings has their origins in American Scene painting, Regionalism, and Works Progress Administration artists of the 1930′s.

Nelson paints figures, objects, landscape, and interior and exterior architecture bathed in light. The objective in his paintings is to idealize the ordinary with the intention of engagement, using the iconic symbols of his lifetime in a theatrical style to make leading suggestions. Nelson explains, “I am trying to make art for engagement or inspection. Suburban Modernism or Social Idealism, derived from my lifetime of environmental or cultural influences. I am painting what I know, be it man or manmade, trying to deepen or heighten reality, stylistically. I am representing the common as sublime, and inventing a shared or desired, based on my vision. If I may borrow from Mr. Copland, ‘Paintings for the Common Man’, from the common man.”

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The Territory of Childhood: Artist Fernando Andrade

9/8/17 - Jennifer Levin for Pasatiempo


Andrade started drawing in high school and found a photorealistic style that came naturally to him, as did the drive to practice his skills in his spare time. He taught himself to draw hair, hands, and other difficult parts of the human body by looking at photos in magazines. At San Antonio College, where he earned an associate’s degree in graphic design, he started thinking more deeply about the content of his drawings while taking twice the number of required drawing classes for his major. “The upper-level professors challenged me to think about drawing as more than an object or a still life. That’s when I started thinking about what I was drawing or painting and why,” he said.

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Dream Weavers: Donald and Era Farnsworth

9/8/17 - Michael Abatemarco for Pasatiempo


The word “antiquarian” comes to mind when viewing the works of husband-and-wife artists Donald and Era Farnsworth. They make handmade papers inspired by those of the 16th century, along with tapestries as rich and elaborate as those of the past, if not more so. But the methods they use to convey the vintage imagery that appears in their own work are far from antiquated, particularly in terms of their textiles, which are woven on a digitized Jacquard loom. Many locally represented artists have collaborated with the couple’s fine art print studio, Magnolia Editions, Inc., based in Oakland, California. You may have encountered the fruits of the Farnsworths’ labor while gallery hopping along Canyon Road and Paseo de Peralta, as Kiki Smith presented a series of large-scale tapestries at Peters Projects in 2016, while Deborah Oropallo, Chuck Close, Squeak Carnwath, Alex Katz, and Hung Liu — who are all represented by Santa Fe’s Turner Carroll Gallery — have all created elaborate woven compositions in conjunction with the Farnsworths. John Nava, whose tapestries grace the walls of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LA, has also exhibited his Farnsworth-produced textiles on Canyon Road. The Farnsworths’ exhibition I Forget I’m Human opens Friday, Sept. 8, at Peters Projects.

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Jami Porter Lara: A Map with No Border

9/1/17 - Jordan Eddy for THE Magazine


To Porter Lara, who spent most of her childhood in New Mexico and lives in Albuquerque, the material culture of the region started to seem like a tightly woven tapestry that easily traversed the border and stretched far into the past. “There was an unbroken chain, from the ceramic vessels up to the water bottles,” she says.

Six years later, Porter Lara is deep into a body of work inspired by that fateful journey. Her series of jet-black ceramic vessels resembling warped two-liter plastic bottles has landed in prestigious museums and galleries from New Mexico to Washington, D.C. On September 8, Porter Lara’s latest sculptures will appear in a solo exhibition at Peters Projects, her first in Santa Fe, titled In Situ. The artist’s experience in the borderlands continues to inform her artistic practice—and her evolving perception of her own identity.

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The Contemplative Curiosity of Gustavo Pérez

8/4/17 - Joe Molinaro for Ceramics Monthly


Deftly slicing into the clay with symmetry and precision using a utility knife, Pérez explores surface on forms that otherwise sit quietly awaiting recognition. The patterning established through “the gentle cuts,”1 a reference the author and critic Garth Clark once used to describe Pérez’ process of incising, carry the visual weight often seen in textiles. However, it is the soft pushing outward in select areas of the cuts that transcends simple surface patterns, bringing it into a more sculptural realm of being. While the original clay piece starts as a static form, Pérez has found a way to activate the skin of the pot to create a dance on the surface that is choreographed to allow three-dimensional manipulation to activate a two-dimensional surface. The patterns created through the cuts become background for the careful pushing from the inside, thus creating another layer of repetition that further defines the form as a more sculptural object. These new patterns, while not directly influenced by nature, are ones he saw in his mind and transferred onto the forms.

After meticulous cutting and manipulation of the wet clay, drying, and then bisque firing, glazes are meticulously injected into the sliced openings to further enhance both surface and form. Minimal coloring added to the form via these sliced openings serves as contrast to the background of unglazed clay, creating a tension of surface and color that both unite and enhance the overall form.

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Frontier Carnival: The Rendezvous makes immortals of those on the margins

6/12/17 - Alicia Inez Guzmán for Santa Fe Reporter

When I first taught the art of Kent Monkman at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, the air in the classroom was thick with discomfort. Cavorting cowboys wearing assless chaps romped across vast Bierstadt-esque landscapes with stereotypical Indians by their sides. It was not what we had seen up until that point: triumphant settlers, roving expeditionaries in the vein of Lewis and Clark, and marauding Indians. This was a “Landscape in the Americas” class, and most of what we’d spoken about and critiqued was the inextricable relationship between envisioning pristine landscapes and the aspirations of Manifest Destiny, the fantasies and projections of imperialism cloaked in the beauty of landscape painting.

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A jarring experience: ceramic artist Daniel Johnston

6/2/17 - by Michael Abatamarco for Santa Fe New Mexican - Pasatiempo

Ceramic artist Daniel Johnston brings a large-scale pottery installation to Peters Projects where it opens to the public on Friday, June 2, with a 5 p.m. reception. Johnston is at the center of a growing large-pot movement in his home state of North Carolina. His massive pots can each take up to 100 pounds of clay to make and hold 35 to 40 gallons apiece. Johnston picked up techniques from master potters in the Thai village of Phon Bok, where he learned efficient ways of producing large pots and jars using processes that are mostly unknown in the U.S.


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A Curated Section Brings Body Politics to Volta NY

3/4/17 - by Jillian Steinhauer for Hyperallergic

The showstopper — of both the section and the entire fair — is Kent Monkman, presented here by Peters Projects. The queer artist of Cree and Irish descent continues to address the very serious subject of historical erasure and representation without barely a hint of self-seriousness. In Monkman’s hands, humor is a real weapon, a means of pointing out the absurdity of the white, colonial, European tradition, and by extension its dangerousness. When he paints an elaborate pastoral scene of homoerotic Native American men riding on horseback near white people who are pouring alcohol onto a flame atop a man’s head (“Baptism by Fire,” 2017), he puts you in a specific position — of having no idea what’s going on. It makes you wonder if everything you’ve ever seen in a history painting is just the invention of someone else’s imagination. A similar phenomenon is at work in his new series, Fate is a Cruel Mistress (2017), which casts Monkman’s alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, as the protagonist in a number of famous Biblical scenes involving women: Judith cutting off Holofernes’s head and others. Decked in headdresses and heels, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle reminds us that we only understand stories as extensions of who tells them.

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Dark matter: James Marshall's sculptures

3/3/17 - by Michael Abatamarco for Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo

In the theory of evolution, fossils or organisms that show the intermediate state between ancestral species and their descendants are known as transitional forms. But they are not necessarily evolutionary mistakes that didn’t quite work out. Every species is potentially a mere link on an evolutionary chain, even our own. Evolution is a liminal state, not a fixed state, and is always in flux.

It isn’t hard to relate evolutionary models to artistic processes, a difference being that in the practice of making art, one has a director, a maker who may or may not know the outcome of a project before he or she begins. There is a transformation that occurs both materially and aesthetically in studio practice. Even the most reductive of artworks often involves a build-up or bringing together of materials, adding something that wasn’t already there that, more often than not, changes the nature of whatever the material was before it became art. One can talk about James Marshall’s monolithic ceramic sculpture, currently on view at Peters Projects, as hybrid forms, but to do so implies a division of equal measure: half this, half that. Rather, each sculpture is singular, whole and complete in itself, the result of a cohesion of forms. “It’s a way to express what I call bringing two into one,” Marshall, whose show is titled Black Interfusion, told Pasatiempo.

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Inupiaq artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs opens solo exhibition at Peters Projects

2/24/17 - ArtDaily

SANTA FE, NM.- Peters Projects presents Inupiaq artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs and her solo exhibition Remnant running through May 6th 2017. 

Peters Projects exhibits Kelliher-Combs' SITE Santa Fe commissioned works entitled Remnant. The series consists of shadow boxes with objects from the natural world, items from Alaskan wildlife, such as bones, organs, and feathers. “Remnant can have multiple meanings, but the idea is that something left behind is maybe found, unearthed, discovered,” she said in an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Pasatiempo. “I take these pieces of natural material and they’re embedded under this synthetic skin, this membrane that’s containing them, and that’s reminiscent of real skin or hide. It’s a commentary on this Western concept of making things out of synthetic materials because it’s supposed to be better and last longer, but look at what’s happened as a result of that: plastics are around for millennia, choking our oceans and waterways and killing our wildlife. A lot of it is a commentary on how our environment is changing rapidly. Living in a place like this (Alaska), there are complicated issues about wildlife management, sports hunting, subsistence hunting, indigenous rights, access to food, and things like that. I’m thinking about those things alongside the changing environment and the sense of place.” Kelliher-Combs considers humanity equally affected by their self-imposed impact on the Alaskan environment and wildlife. “There’s always this distinction between man and nature, but man is part of nature,” she said. 

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These 20 Artists Are Shaping the Future of Ceramics

2/23/17 - by Casey Lesser for Artsy

“It feels like a collaborator,” Porter Lara says of clay. “I rarely end up in the place I think I’m going because the clay has its own ideas. I like the feeling of being led by the material.” She harvests her own clay from a site near Albuquerque, makes her vessels from coils, burnishes them with a stone once the clay dries, and fires the works in a pit in her front yard.

Her latest conceptual works address the threatening ubiquity of plastic bottles, which she sees as contemporary artifacts. Currently featured in a solo show at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., this series originated when Porter Lara encountered numerous two-liter bottles along the U.S.-Mexico border. “I wasn’t a ceramist, so in the beginning the vessels were rather ‘organic,’ which led to the question of whether it is possible to locate a dividing line between nature, humans, and technology,” she explains. She’s now working to create these works at a much larger scale for a solo show at Peters Projects in Santa Fe this fall.

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Review: Kukuli Velarde: Plunder Me Baby

2/1/17 - by Alicia Inez Guzmán for THE Magazine

Is it possible for an artist to exhaust the format of the self-portrait? Or are we better off asking the opposite question: are artists’ reflections on their own likeness ever enough to fully describe depth of character, change over time, or one’s psyche? Kukuli Velarde compulsively and almost exclusively makes her own face and form the object of her art. We look at her and then her art only to realize they are one and the same. It is through this doubling that we come to confront the history of colonialism in Velarde’s native Peru. The self-portrait goes beyond likeness to become a profound survey of her own mixed-race body. Like many Latin Americans, she is the sum of indigenous and Spanish bloodlines, a veritable mix of oppressed and oppressor. 

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Philadelphia artist Doug Herren's first exhibition in Santa Fe on view at Peters Projects

1/6/17- Art Daily

SANTA FE, NM.- Peters Projects is presenting Philadelphia artist Doug Herren in his first exhibition in Santa Fe titled Infra-Structure: Vessels, Sculptures, Tables December 16, 2016 – February 11, 2017. 

Herren is known for his brightly painted large-scale ceramic sculptures that are hybrids of industrial equipment and traditional wheel-thrown pottery. Many of the sculptures appear to be constructed from machine parts or iron works that have been reconfigured with bolts or rivets and repainted to look anew. 

The refurbished objects seem functional but their scale, antique steampunk character, and disjointedness deem otherwise. In addition to their eye-catching colors, they have other playful characteristics. The totemic structures create a sense that many of the parts are moveable – elements could potentially spin or be re-stacked and re-assembled. 

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