Dysfunctional: Curated by Roberto Lugo

March, 16 – May 14, 2017

Clay has historically been used as a medium to create utilitarian objects. The functions of objects often come from the needs of the communities within which the objects are created. Kimchi Jars in Korea to butter dishes in Minnesota—form following function has long been an idea that makes ceramic recognizable in our everyday routine.

Dysfunctional is an exhibition that follows this tradition but recognizes that we need to develop new ways to use ceramics in order to function within the discourse of the contemporary world we live in. In considering the use of the word ‘function’ as a conceptual term one might come to the conclusion that art, and craft, must take on the challenge of figuring out how to function in a digital age.

The artists exhibited in Dysfunctional consider both the traditional means within which ceramics have been used but are in the midst of considering how to add to its discourse. From ceramic clothing to ceramic food, Dysfunctional considers the ludicrous as a possibility for innovation. Within this exhibition artists from a variety of backgrounds represent many takes on the notion of what makes functional ceramics, not in an effort to resolve this idea but to pose questions that can produce a more comprehensive understanding of how clay can function in society.

Curated by Roberto Lugo, Dysfunctional features works by Sebra Debrecht, Christina Erives, Margaret Kinkeade, Natalie Kuenzi, Shani Richards, Amy Shindo, and Shalene Valenzuela. Lugo is a potter, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator. His ceramic works were  exhibited at Pewabic in the 2016 curated exhibition This is the living vessel: person. This is what matters. This is our universe. 

"I am a potter, social activist, spoken word poet, and educator. All of these roles are rooted in my childhood. Having had no formal music or art training, I often practiced table drumming and writing hip-hop lyrics as it was customary to “battle rap” during lunch. Instead of art class, I drew in my composition book, and marked every wall that I could. “Graffiti” was a way to get my name into the community, to attain a local fame.
Today my graffiti is defacing social inequality I teach communities to make mosaic murals to honor victims of gun violence. I see my pottery as a process of transforming the ground we walk on into something we eat from;  we search all day for the perfect spot to put it on display. In many ways this transformation of tragedy into triumph is a metaphor for my life’s story.
My experiences as an indigent minority inform my version of Puerto Rican American history. With my education in critical theory, art education, art history, and studio art I have developed a studio practice that fluidly communicates with diverse audiences. I bring art to those that do not believe they need to see it and engage in deeper ways of knowing, learning and thinking."

—Roberto Lugo