Juncture Catalog Introduction
Introduction to the 2014 OCAC Thesis Exhibition Catalog
A juncture is a place where things join. A juncture also marks a particular point in events or time. This exhibition, as its title indicates, stands at an important juncture in the lives of the exhibiting artists. The artists are members of the graduating class of 2014 at the Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC). They have spent the past year – their thesis year – in a concentrated and rigorous study of material, ideas, process, and inquiry. The works you see in this exhibition and in this, its accompanying catalog, demanded months of solitary making in the studio and workshop, further weeks devoted to conversation and critique, and countless hours spent in conscious and unconscious study of the world. Though their works span and connect traditions and disciplines as diverse as Book Arts, Ceramics, Fibers, Metals, Painting and Drawing, Photography, and Wood, these artists are united in their pursuit of material and conceptual competence.
To make is an essential and important vocation. In their time at OCAC, these graduates have become fluent in the language of things: of form, of function, of texture, and of heft. They have mastered craft’s rhetorical tools including, among others, material, concept, tradition, and technique. The call of the craftsman is to be a translator: to make tangible the intangible, to articulate in physical form that which we cannot articulate in language. The making of an object is, therefore, the first overture in a conversation.
This exhibition invites viewers to participate in spacious and ambitious conversations that actively seek to expand the tradition of craft. The works here examine questions of labor and of language, of the body, of the home, of aging, of gender, and of memory. They express wonder at the world, at its diversity of forms, patterns, and artifacts. They are alternately provocative and pensive, abstract and abject, reassuring, off-putting, and performative. They offer critiques of our public spaces, of our childhood stories, and of consumer culture. In many ways, they challenge traditional conceptions of what craft is or ought to be.
With junctures come choices. One of Frost’s “two roads”1 perhaps, or any of a number of very real post-graduation decisions. But it is worth remembering that, just as a hatched series of lines on the back of a napkin can get a traveler from point A to point B, art and its making can orient us when we venture off trail and lose our bearings. When we look out from atop ridgelines, we can see, and when walking, we can experience, the correspondence between the thin, concentric, topographic lines on a map and the rise and fall of mountains and valleys. So too with making and studio practice.
A thesis year should never be the end; it should be a beginning. It is the ridgeline towards which each of these artists has labored and climbed. It is the vantage point from which they can see that which was previously hidden, the lookout tower from which they can affirm that they are not, in fact, lost. Rather, they are precisely where they ought to be to continue moving forward.