Mariane Ibrahim is pleased to announce its first exhibition dedicated to ceramics: “Terra Recognita: A Ceramic Story.” The show features new works by Nadira Husain, Zizipho Poswa, Jennifer Rochlin, Leena Similu, and Shafei Xia and is on view in Chicago from July 15 – August 26, 2023.
Ceramics—despite being one of the world’s oldest art forms—have been discovered and rediscovered time and time again and with the work of these five artists, the medium is once again being challenged in both form and function. Terra Recognita refers to the idea of exploring charted territories and discovering new lands. The exhibition displays a broad stroke of diverse cultures and ceramic practices through the works of the exhibiting artists. As vessels, each of the works’ complexities of the present, past, and future highlight the artists and their individual cultures.
This body of work boasts large, hand-coiled sculptures, reflective pieces, and painted works. The vessels incorporate symbols and stories, representing the artists’ Individual histories in all their forms. The works of these artists are their means of storytelling, exploring themes of cultural identity and appropriation through the lenses of race, gender, and personal identity.
Poswa and Similu view their works as extensions of themselves, blurring the lines between current and former realities in a tangible artistic practice. Poswa’s large hand-coiled works are a testament to African womanhood, inspired by her Xhosa background and paying tribute to the concept of “umthalwo.” Similu’s sculptures, additionally were born out of her experience of becoming a mother, reflecting on her West African origins, ancestors, and her introduction of synthetic hair in pieces reflected on her earliest memories of reconciling with her sense of self and the predicament of where to associate. The reconciliation of her African heritage with an upbringing in a European-dominated society inspired an interest in cultural identifiers and an exploration of her Mother’s Cameroon lineage and culture that her child would inherit.
Meanwhile, Husain’s hybrid paintings integrate symbols and stories from different cultural contexts, merging anthropomorphic beings from furry fandoms, with Indian miniature painting references, immersed in an organic, Libidinal, vegetal universe. Rochlin’s work moreover; displays California’s lush flora and fauna, often referencing pop culture, personal narratives, and art history. Xia’s works are emanations of the artist’s feelings of love, desire, jealousy, and violence. In an inherently human artistic practice, represented explicitly or symbolically, depending on the case, as an omnipresent feature of the work of Shafei. The artist often represents herself as a tiger, a symbol of power and instinctive force, which in Chinese alchemy indicates the active principle, of energy as opposed to the passive principle.
These women form carriers of their stories and lives, expressing to the world an undying loyalty to themselves and their desires.