March 15 – April 28, 2007
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present new works by Jeffry Mitchell. Continuing to explore the crossroads among notions of high art, decoration, and craft, Mitchell’s work takes conventional attitudes toward ceramic art as a point of departure, infusing expressionist and conceptual sensibilities into a medium which has been traditionally evaluated in terms of technical and formal virtuosity.
In the drawings, Mitchell’s signature iconography of bears, elephants, and flowers are composed of blue washes of watercolor and delicate ballpoint pen. The densely packed imagery creates a scene of jovial frolicking in which an open-ended narrative unfolds. The two ceramic works in the show echo Mitchell’s interest in decorative arts, referencing a Quaker pickle jar and Rococo wall ornamentation, but again the artist’s interest in banality and the connotations often associated with the craft itself balances the work. Mitchell questions the decorative associations intrinsic to the medium by pushing conceptual boundaries. Couched in a gestural, spontaneous style of expression and a muted pastel color palette, Mitchell’s work occupies a world of vivacity and festivity that, as a whole, evokes a broad celebration of life.
Mitchell’s work is also included in the 8th Northwest Biennial, running until May 6 at the Tacoma Art Museum.