Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Protest Bulbs

most of the Protest bulbs before glaze firing

Last week was the opening of the Membership Show at Larson Gallery. Since there is no jurying process, it is possible to put in anything. I decided to put in a set of what I am calling "protest bulbs." These works are outside my usual comfort zone. Additionally, I pulled these out of the kiln the day before they were due at Larson Gallery and finished putting them together that night.

Protest bulbs at Larson Gallery

I started working on these bulbs after being informally invited to participate in a Nasty Women show. The Nasty Women show isn't, to my knowledge, a set thing yet, but it may still be in the works. Regardless, I got thinking about what I would put in a political show. At this point, I don't think that simply being a woman making work is enough, and I've got more to say than what is said by my usual sculpture and installation work.

Protest bulbs out of the kiln

Branching out into work like this feels strange, but the membership show is a good opportunity to give it a try with fairly low stakes. I've written about most of the bulbs before, but I hadn't finished glazing and adding mixed media elements last time I wrote. 

Women's March Pussy Hat bulb

I had knitted a pussy hat earlier in the project, but I had to reknit it the weekend before the exhibition because the first one was too large. The one I ended up with fits a little strangely, probably because the bulb is not head-shaped. However, it must have been recognizable enough, because this was one of four bulbs out of the set that sold during the opening reception.

installing prison bars

The night before the work was due at the gallery, I installed some jail bars in the window of the jail bulb. I had intended to install metal bars, but I was having trouble cutting the metal I had planned to use. At the last minute (aka bedtime) I decided to paint some toothpicks and cut them to size. They worked fairly well.

prisoner contained

I'm fairly happy with the bars, though one of them is a bit loose. I didn't glue them in place, but perhaps I should have.

Heathcare / Prescription Drugs / Opioid crisis

Most of the bulbs were under-glazed. Some were also glazed. I didn't have much time, so I had to take some risks. I had intended to use just washes of color, but while looking at the American flag bulb in progress, I realized that the white needed to be added in more than a wash. I also decided to put a light layer of glaze over the flag bulb. I'm pretty happy with the finished product and I think the color works well with the rest of the bulbs.

American Flag

One of the bulbs that turned out pretty much just as I expected was the Mother of All Bombs, which had stained red and green underglaze with glaze also wiped into the lower sections and wiped away. The color and texture of the clay was what I anticipated.

"Mother of All Bombs"

The fist/resist bulb and the gerrymandering bulb don't look very shiny, though I though I did use glaze on these, too. I probably just wiped it away more than on the others.

Protest Fist / Gerrymandering

The F-22 doesn't look like a bulb and doesn't look like it was glazed either, though it was. I might consider using a more contrasting color next time.


The smokestacks looked how I expected, but I didn't use glaze on the stacks, only on the smoke.

Pollution / smokestacks

I'm happy with the birth control bulb, both for color and shine, as well as texture of the pushed out pill containers. This bulb also feels more ambiguous than some and I like the ambiguity, even though I think its fairly obvious what it is in context. In the picture the six pack plastic bulb is hanging above the birth control bulb, making the shadows stranger than elsewhere in the installation.

Birth control / Family planning

Two of the bulbs were done too late to get a coat of glaze fired. The capitol building has white underglaze painted on and washed off, but it hasn't been fired. If it were washed, it would wipe right off.
Call your representatives

The greedy monopoly man with moneybags also hasn't had its underglaze fired in place. I think I might consider more color for Mr. Moneybags. It is a complicated bulb, which probably makes it harder to read in the installation.

Big Banks / Wealth Hoarding

Four of the bulbs sold during the opening reception, which I was unable to attend because I had just finished the raku firing at school and smelled like a campfire. The four that sold were the pussy hat from the Women's March, the Resist sign with protestors, and both bulbs with text from the First Amendment.

Resist Protestors

The resist/ protestors bulb has glaze and underglaze, though the signs the people are holding are a bit hard to read.

The First Amendment, wrapped up

One of the First Amendment bulbs has text on it out of order with ropes wrapped around the bulb. The bulb has been squashed by the ropes (it was squashed when it was wet and the rope was added after it was fired. The other bulb has the text of the first amendment in the correct order except for one small typo (look close). The text has been highlighted in yellow. I think this was one of the most successful bulbs of the batch.

The First Amendment

After I brought most of the bulbs to the gallery, I made an appointment to actually install them. Bringing to a gallery an installation of 18 bulbs, each hanging on individual hooks, usually elicits an invitation to install them yourself. Since I couldn't install them the day they were due (I had to wait for the folks at the gallery to set up the show), I had an extra weekend in which to finish the last bulb. I left the blank bulb at home and was betting on maybe getting a chance to finish it. 

Trump Tweets

Over the weekend I printed out a couple pages of tweets written by Donald Trump before and after he became president. These I decoupaged onto the blank bulb. The result requires the viewer to look fairly closely. I'm not happy with the contrast (I don't have a color printer at home) of the bulb on its own, but in the group I think it works ok. 

Installation shot

I ended up with 20 bulbs and I needed 18. I brought two home, which means that I was able to put in only my favorites for this installation. I think I have one or two opportunities to install this work coming up in the next year. With this in mind, I plan to increase the installation to 60 bulbs and remake the ones that sold. 

two of these didn't make it into the show. Can you tell which two?

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