Carbondale Clay Center resident debuts solo exhibition
If You Go...
Who: Susie Pentelow
What: ‘Circumstances of Utterance’ opening reception
When: 6-8 p.m. on Friday
Where: Carbondale Clay Center
How Much: Free
Carbondale Clay Center resident artist Susie Pentelow is fascinated by the domestic space and viewing the everyday object as a piece of art.
These themes are explored in the British artist’s solo exhibition, “Circumstances of Utterance,” for which the Clay Center will host an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on First Friday.
“Sometimes in an art setting, people might be afraid of saying, ‘This is what I like, this is what I don’t like,’ or they feel they would have to justify themselves more,” Pentelow said. “But if you go into someone’s home, you can see their personal tastes, and they’re not afraid to curate their homes and show what they like. It’s a much freer realm for that, and you can really see people’s visual preferences.”
In a way, Pentelow is creating a domestic space in the Clay Center’s gallery; two walls will be covered with wallpaper she designed herself, giving the impression that viewers are not in a gallery but are rather in a home. It sets the scene for an atmosphere where the everyday becomes beautiful.
Pentelow will be showing a collection of sculptures celebrating functional objects. She has taken pieces of scrap metal she’s found and slip cast them in porcelain, then glazed them.
“I’ve always been really interested in taking functional objects and then transforming them into a kind of ornamental thing,” she said.
While the majority of Pentelow’s clay work will be sculptural, she will have a set of cups on display.
“I’ve made cups — they’re a collaboration with my girlfriend — which kind of go outside the show,” she said. “They’ll be an addition to go along with the show rather than being right in the space.”
But clay is pretty new for Pentelow, in the scheme of things.
“Originally, a lot of my practice was drawing and installation,” she said. “And then I started to branch into sculpture, and clay, quite by chance, became the material that really worked for what I wanted to do, especially because lots of my work does play with ideas in the domestic setting, and I was making sculptures that looked a bit like ornaments. I wanted to be tapping into that language, and glazed porcelain is the ideal for that. So that was how it came about, quite by chance, and then I just never really stopped.”
Pentelow’s collages will also be in her show. She takes images from interior design magazines and pieces together fragments to create new works of art, still celebrating the home.
Her interest in the domestic space started when she was studying art in college, at around the same time she realized art may in fact be a viable career option.
“Until I started being in a contemporary art environment, I really didn’t realize that was a thing you could still do,” she said. “I just didn’t realize it was possible that I could be an artist, but it was always art that I wanted to do.”
When she started college, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to make. She was still searching for her voice as an artist, but she started to notice that most of her inspiration came from interior design magazines.
“When I first went to college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, so I would just pick out things that I liked and stick them up, then sit around looking lost,” she said with a laugh. “But I was realizing more and more that the things I was putting up because I just liked them visually were always interior design or really domestic things.”
Pentelow still has one more year of college to finish; she took a couple years off for a variety of reasons, one being to work at the Clay Center.
“I was looking at residency programs online — I’m always just browsing — and it seemed like there were a lot more programs in the U.S., especially ones that are longer,” she said. “I really wanted to go somewhere for a year, and I wanted to work in a new environment and be in a completely new place.”
This is her first time in the United States, and she said she’s glad her first experience here was spent in Carbondale after living in cities her whole life
“It was really different, and I’m glad I moved somewhere small; it really helped me settle in,” she said. “And I think this town is just amazing for having such a thriving arts community when it’s so tiny. I can’t think of anywhere like that in England.”
Pentelow’s residency wraps up this month, and her future as an artist, while not entirely clear, looks bright.
“I’m going to move to London for a year and finish up college, and then after that I’m not sure,” she said. “I’d like to come back to the U.S. at some point.”
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