56 HENRY is thrilled to present Feed Your Head, an exhibition of ceramics by Polly Apfelbaum and Gregg Moore on view from January 25 through March 5, 2023.
In an exhibition ablaze with color, Polly Apfelbaum and Gregg Moore are complementaries. In their partnership, Apfelbaum’s generative formulation of color and instinct for a hybrid material practice fuses with Moore’s meticulous and technical ceramic expertise and knowledge. The two come together over a shared love of ceramics, material pleasure, and sensorial experimentation. Together, they pursued a Pew-funded residency, the fruits of which include the exhibition For the Love of Una Hale at Arcadia University and the one hundred glazed porcelain mugs and three color charts on view at 56 HENRY.
Using Mason Color powder pigments, Apfelbaum concocted over one hundred new glaze colors. The artists’ shared ceramics studio became a think tank in chromatic spectrum through which Apfelbaum and Moore found deep joy in experimentation and comfort in routine amid lockdowns. In the cyclone of confusion and isolation, working on mugs, receptacles for that which fuels us, comforts us, sustains us, and energizes us, felt simultaneously organic and vital.
With artists such as Betty Woodman, Viola Frey, Ken Price, and Ron Nagel as guideposts, Apfelbaum and Moore charted out their own inventive process. Wide-lipped mugs with generous rims, swells of entasis, and irresistibly tactile drips are grouped into twenty-five sets of four different color families. Each glossy mug has four possible locations for the various hues: its exterior, interior, handle, and embossed drip falling from the rim. In each set of four mugs, a color’s location rotates. The rhythmic progression of glazing in this way highlights the very architecture of the beloved ubiquitous drinking vessel.
Three color charts filled with the glazed hues that adorn the mugs are presented alongside the vessels. Conventionally, pyramidal, wheeled, and tabled grids of color attempt to visually organize, or locate universal coherence in color. Apfelbaum and Moore delightfully poke at the impossible attempt; each chart varies, there is no true neutral chromatic logic. For the color charts in Feed Your Head, at center is a desire to put process on display. Irregular splotches arranged in tight rows are redolent of a glazed painter’s palette. Their color charts pose a rebellion of deliberate disorder.
Apfelbaum and Moore culled the exhibition’s lyrical title, Feed Your Head, from Jefferson Airplane’s legendary “White Rabbit.” As the song riffs on Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, Apfelbaum and Moore invite us to their own mad [coffee] party. The cornucopia of mugs offers viewers an intimation of labor expended, systems created, and time spent. Each unique, Apfelbaum and Moore’s one hundred porcelain mugs may be suggestive of personal relationships—idiosyncratic, intimate, and at their best when held closely.
Polly Apfelbaum lives and works between New York and Pennsylvania. She received her BFA at the Tyler School of Art. This is the artist’s second exhibition at 56 HENRY since inaugurating the space in 2015. Apfelbaum’s work is held in collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Since 1986 she has held solo exhibitions in the USA and abroad at venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Magasin 111, Jaffa, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, the Kemper Museum, Kansas City, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, and Belvedere 21, Vienna. Apfelbaum was a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize. Apfelbaum is represented by Frith Street Gallery, London and Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna.
Gregg Moore lives and works in Pennsylvania. He is a professor of Visual and Performing Arts and director of the Ceramics program at Arcadia University. He received his BA at Skidmore College and his MFA at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. His studio practice explores the relationship between ceramics and new media, drawing from historical foundations while questioning and investigating perceptions of the ceramics field. He is currently a Maker-Creator Research Fellow at the Winterthur Museum and was recently the Stone Barns Fellow of Art at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.