Nicole Cherubini

Project Room 1 Sep 12–Dec 5, 2009

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Nicole Cherubini
Sep 12–Dec 5, 2009





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Nicole Cherubini, Baby Blue, 2009

In her first West Coast Museum exhibition, artist Nicole Cherubini presents new sculptures that reference the history of clay as a medium and feature forms made of terracotta, earthenware, and porcelain and surfaces arrived at through various hand-built, thrown and molded processes. New forms are accompanied and supported by materials such as wood, MDF, 2x3s, digital photographs, metal, glaze, enamel, and drawing materials.

Cherubini’s work brings antiquated notions of ceramics into a contemporary sculptural discourse as they invoke ideas rooted in conceptual art from the 1970s. The new ‘box’ pieces presented at SMMoA come from a continued interest by Cherubini in movement, process, containment, and structure. These sculptures reference the cardboard pieces of Robert Rauschenberg, the material use of Robert Morris, ideas about physical space addressed by Donald Judd, and Eva Hesse’s ability to challenge the 2-D and 3-D.

Cherubini’s large container is based on a Greek storage vessel from 500BC in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Made of clay in multiple sections, it has no base and is filled with holes in defiance of its function. Barely glazed, most of its surface is raw, exposed, dry clay.
Attached to this sculpture is a framed manipulated digital c-print of an 18th Century watercolor of The Portland Vase by T. Hosner Shepard. This vase, in the collection of The British Museum, London, was famously broken in February 1845 by an Irish university drop-out, William Mulcahy, who destroyed the vitrine and smashed the vase with a stone sculpture displayed nearby. Cherubini has drawn over this image with paint, graphite, and ink, depicting the shards before the piece was reconstructed.

Cherubini uses the cardboard box in which manufactured clay comes as a mold for an object placed on a tall pedestal base. The collapsed, flaccid ‘box’ is turned on its flattened side, adorned with pools and drips of glaze. Marks created by the mold and finger fully illustrate the process of its making, exposing both inside and out to the viewer.

A large plywood pilaster, full of knots and cracks, displays brightly glazed hanging terracotta ‘boxes’. These are glazed with intense semi-precious colors of lapis, turquoise, malachite, cobalt, and rose quartz. Their earthy and organic textures vary from high gloss to matte, and are texturized with shimmery sediment and crystals mixing in the firing process. A larger 5-sided clay ‘box’ stands on its side nearby, made from white clay with a matte white glaze.

Cherubini was born in Boston in 1970. She received her BFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in Visual Arts from New York University, and later attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. She is a recipient of an NEA Travel Grant, a New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and most recently an Art Matters Grant for travel in Mexico. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions both internationally and in the United States; including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA; Sculpture Center, New York; La Panadería, Mexico City; PS1/MoMA, New York; The Rose Art Museum, Boston; Samson Projects, Boston; and Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin. Last fall, she had concurrent exhibitions at Smith Stewart Gallery and D’Amelio Terras in New York. Cherubini lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Nicole Cherubini is organized by the Santa Monica Museum of Art and curator Lisa Melandri, Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs.