By Tom Wachunas
“…In being most heavily influenced by Pop Surrealism, I sarcastically pair dismal scenes with pleasurable pops of color, playful perspectives, figure distortion and an abundance of childlike references. Within these works, I can bring a sense of humor and absurdity to some of the darker, more challenging aspects of being human in our unstable, perpetually changing environments.” - from the artist statement by Hannah Pierce
I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in / I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in / I got up so tight I couldn't unwind / I saw so much I broke my mind / I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in – lyrics from "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Mickey Newbury, 1967
EXHIBIT: UNSOUND – Ceramics by Hannah Pierce / At Canton Museum of Art THROUGH MARCH 6, 2022 / 1001 Market Avenue N., Canton, Ohio / 330-453-7666 / Viewing hours: Monday-Thursday 10:00 a.m.- 8 p.m, Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
You can read the full artist statement, plus view a larger portfolio of her work, by clicking on this link:
This world, this world. Living here is often like sailing on dark, stormy waters. We can encounter all manner of drenched, unmoored seafarers. Some of them – frantically signaling their angst and confusion - gasp for air as they flounder in an ocean of loose lips, gritted teeth, clenched fists. Others are sassy, seemingly unfazed and dismissive, detached and drifting aimlessly with the tides, and maybe grinning at the absurdity of their plight. Wry society, or society gone awry?
Welcome to the perplexing, earthenware and porcelain world presented by San Diego artist Hannah Pierce. She has meticulously crafted a metaphorical narrative of sculpted “characters” rendered in varying modes of introspection and expressivity.
What are we to make of the recurring motif of monochromed faces suspended on the gallery walls? Some look mischievous, some smiling, some perhaps angry or bored. They’re sticking their tongues out at us in a casual sort of way. A puerile gesture of disrespect? A taunting, a dare? Have these characters ingested a strange candy? Their tongues are tattooed with patterns of dots in bright colors. A rash of questions indeed.
Elsewhere, surrounded by clusters of prickly cactus leaves, the grey faces in “Waiting…& Waiting” are drinking a pink something through plastic straws. What is it? Pucker up to succulent silliness.
Eerily enough, and not so silly, looking at Pierce’s stark and haunting figurative works, such as “Nothing to Say” and “Nightcap,” with their distorted anatomies and woeful facial expressions, conjured in me the memory of a movie scene wherein a certain woman was fatally dowsed with a bucket of…water. Hear it, her timeless wail? “I’m melting, melting! Oooh what a world, what a world…”