Ceramic Artist's Reassembled Works Examine Cultural Values; Based in Northampton, Mass., Ceramic Artist Cynthia Consentino Has Gained a National Reputation. A Longtime Exhibiting Favorite at Gallerie Chiz, She Recently Returned to the Shadyside Gallery to Open Her Latest Solo Exhibition, "An Anthropology: Tales of Land, Sea & Sky," Which Is on Display through Oct. 15. [Derived Headline]

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

Ceramic Artist's Reassembled Works Examine Cultural Values; Based in Northampton, Mass., Ceramic Artist Cynthia Consentino Has Gained a National Reputation. A Longtime Exhibiting Favorite at Gallerie Chiz, She Recently Returned to the Shadyside Gallery to Open Her Latest Solo Exhibition, "An Anthropology: Tales of Land, Sea & Sky," Which Is on Display through Oct. 15. [Derived Headline]


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Based in Northampton, Mass., ceramic artist Cynthia Consentino has gained a national reputation. A longtime exhibiting favorite at Gallerie Chiz, she recently returned to the Shadyside gallery to open her latest solo exhibition, "An Anthropology: Tales of Land, Sea & Sky," which is on display through Oct. 15.

In this latest exhibit, Consentino has stripped down and re- assembled various figural parts of ceramics and knickknacks to create something familiar yet entirely new.

It's an approach that has served her well, especially for someone who has always been interested in what creates our collective perceptions and values regarding gender, social roles and art.

"Everything has impact," Consentino says. "The stories we grow up with -- fairy tale, religion, family tales; the relationships and values we see enacted around us; the objects we surround ourselves with; and of course, the media we consume.

"I am interested in visual symbols and want to understand their many layers of meaning as well as how they encode cultural values. I use these familiar symbols and objects, but alter and mix up the norm searching for a better understanding of them."

Consentino calls one of her bodies of work "Reconfigurations," which re-examine "the commercial ceramic figurine by altering it and adding to its original meaning," she says.

Two series of "Reconfigurations" -- "Birdies" and "Madonnas" -- are presented here as wall installations that mimic domestic collections and decoration.

"Parakeet" combines an actual commercial figurine of a parakeet with the cast of the head of a female figurine that holds a human heart in its mouth. "Winged Madonna" is a slip cast porcelain sculpture created by combining a mold cast taken from a commercial religious figurine of the Virgin Mary with the wings and head of a dove.

In both, the ubiquitous ceramic figurine is up-cycled, given a new look, and the viewer is asked to reconsider both the original meaning and new relationships that result from the alteration.

"Low-cost art for the masses, ceramic figurines depict the ideals and desires of their time, no matter how banal or diluted for consumption," the artist says. " 'Birdies' and 'Madonnas' examine the symbols embedded in the figurine, what they reflect about our culture and its ideas of gender, nature, religion, beauty, transcendence, as well as its ideas of art, worth and function."

Not far away hangs "Virgin II," one of Consentino's earliest "Reconfigurations" pieces. Her torso began as a white porcelain figurine that was re-fired with luster glazes and china paints, and then painted. Her legs are slip-cast doll parts, which somewhat awkwardly protrude from her lower skirt, as she sits on a cloud hand- sculpted to fit her body. …

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Ceramic Artist's Reassembled Works Examine Cultural Values; Based in Northampton, Mass., Ceramic Artist Cynthia Consentino Has Gained a National Reputation. A Longtime Exhibiting Favorite at Gallerie Chiz, She Recently Returned to the Shadyside Gallery to Open Her Latest Solo Exhibition, "An Anthropology: Tales of Land, Sea & Sky," Which Is on Display through Oct. 15. [Derived Headline]
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