BITTER AND SOUR by CARO BURKS at STONE HOUSE ART GALLERY [from 20210507 to 20210531]

[Photos: Kilee Price]

Stone House Art Gallery is pleased to present Bitter and Sour, a solo exhibition of new ceramic artwork by Caro Burks. In her latest series, Burks adorns shelves with replicated remnants of the personal and familiar. The arrangement of mostly ceramic objects builds narratives that explore thoughts and feelings about the construct of domestic femininity and its intersection with religion, rural upbringings, objecthood. The result of these arrangements is a physical manifestation of the complex sentimental relationship between people, the objects they love, and how composite objects morph together to form new histories

An amorphous fruit rests squashed in the center of the gallery. Directly and most prominently above it hangs a suspended window frame, whose wire mesh on either side has trapped a collection of seemingly moldy and rotten peaches and several tomatoes. The painted wooden frame is chipped and peeling, a spider's web is embroidered in mesh, and a sheer awning affixed atop the frame displays signs of weathering. To anyone who’s spent a summer evening on a back porch in rural America, these visual signifiers are ubiquitous with the familiar decay of everyday existence. For Burks, this ubiquity is constructed from her own socioeconomic experience in rural Appalachia and the greater southeast. Her work references an interest in the correlation between home decoration and domestic feminine identity through the lens of decorative objects. In Bitter and Sour, these objects present themselves through a series of glossy rotten tomatoes, sugar-flocked lemon candies, and mold and dust covered doilies. These objects of rendered decay exist at a time-halt in relation to other objects of projected significance. A vintage coke bottle holds a fly-covered pinwheel, a candy dish extends itself to meet its displaced lid, and a swan-head fruit bowl greets guests with sharpened teeth. Their intended placement builds a narrative about the person who placed them there.

Through her research and often dark sense of play when creating, the works in this exhibition create an imagined place where objects and their environment begin to influence each other in unexpected ways. Often in this work, references to the cultural stories of womanhood and their depictions emerge including references to the Fates, The Birth of Venus, Dora Maar, and symbols from Burks own relationships. In Bitter and Sour, the stories of these objects become familiar, yet alienating, devoid of familiar moral conclusions or clear endings.

[Text: Kilee Price]

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