Powerful, mysterious, sometimes menacing or disarmingly witty, the ceramic sculpture of Carla Malone bristles with bold energy. Approximately 45 full-scale pieces and 20 miniatures by the Stockton clay artist will be showcased in the exhibition Dark Garden: The Sculpture of Carla Malone from May 1 to July 20.
Malone’s striking “pots,” as she lovingly called them, embody both ancient and modern sensibilities. Malone much admired ancient pottery and chose to hand-build her work using the same simple coiling, burnishing and firing techniques used to create primitive pots and vessels. Doing so allowed her to build asymmetrically, to append and enfold, to create distinctive sculptural forms.
“My vessels,” Malone said, “do pay homage to those of ancient cultures and attempt to recapture the human element intrinsic in them.”
Yet the extravagant shapes, texturing and impracticality of Malone’s clay work root it firmly in the area of sculpture. Ranging in height from under two inches to more than six feet, these dark, dramatic ceramics convey both a sense of of archaeological artifact and a modern sophistication.
Malone’s work never fails to elicit a wide range of reactions from viewers: “It’s mystical.” (Sarape and Orb Board exude a quiet transcendence.) “It’s frightening.”(Hairy Thorn appears to threaten.) “It’s fun and funky.” (There’s whimsy in the upswept silhouette of Hairdo 2.) “It’s something that Tim Burton would admire.” (A little dark and twisted, yes.) Best of all is the observation “it’s strong.” There is indeed an earthy strength, a vital presence, that runs throughout the pieces large and small.
Dark Garden surveys Malone’s work from the 1970s, when she was an art student at University of the Pacific, to the 1990s, when she passed away from cancer. The exhibit will explore her work through the voices of her contemporaries, collectors and other clay artists.
Carla Malone earned a BFA from University of the Pacific and an MFA from San Jose State University. Her work is included in the collections of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art in Logan, Utah, as well several private collections. The UOP art department established an annual award in her name for student work in ceramics.
Check out other exhibits and more by visiting the museum's website. www.hagginmuseum.org