By Paul Gessell
Usually, I just walk on by when it comes to ceramics, although I do know and admire some fine local masters of the medium: Jim Thomson and Maureen Marcotte come to mind.
So, it takes a great deal of skill and artistry to impress me when it comes to ceramics. And impressed I was when I visited the Outaouais studio of Lisa Creskey during the recent annual Chelsea-Wakefield Studio Tour. Compared to most other artists and craftspeople on the tour, she was definitely in a class by herself.
Creskey is not new to the scene. It’s just that I am new to Creskey, having walked by too many pottery shows over the years without taking a look. Creskey creates ceramics that are really complex sculptures with intriguing narratives. Her work is truly unique.
She has an exhibition, Images I Inhabit, that has just opened at Atrium Gallery at Centrepointe and continues until Oct. 24. She also has a show, Our Enfolding Junctures, from Oct. 19 to Nov. 8 at her dealer’s, L.A. Pai Gallery in the ByWard Market. And she is also participating in the annual 260 Fingers pottery extravaganza at the Glebe Community Centre, Nov. 9 to 11. Creskey was supposed to have an exhibition at Karsh-Masson Gallery in the market last spring. But a leaky roof postponed that exhibition until May 2013. This is one busy artist.
The Atrium show is dominated by an installation of real twigs inhabited by families of life-sized ceramic blue herons or, to be more precise, fragments of blue herons. These are the herons that nest in marshy areas near rural stretches of the Rideau Canal.
The show also has jagged-edged bowls depicting marshy areas and a spectacular ceramic scene on a wall called “Characteristics of Maps and Measures – York Boat.” That latter piece shows several identical, red-faced characters in a open boat, dramatically battling waves. The effect is other-worldly and mesmerizing.
“My primary drive as a visual artist has been that of storytelling from a personal point of departure or connection,” Creskey said in an email to me. “Through my work I attempt to question and destabilize my own understanding of personal and collective identity. I am drawn to historical documents and artifacts as a place to initiate visual exploration. These images that are, or were, commonly found in Canadian school textbooks play a role in our formative internal visual foundation. The shared nature of these artifacts gives me a point of departure from which to question and explore my own understanding of personal and collective identity.”