Cheryl Ann Thomas at AMOCA

Connected Spaced: Cheryl Ann Thomas + Michael F. Rohde
Mar 12 – Aug 21
America Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA

Connected Spaces presents nearly 50 artworks by California-based artists Michael F. Rohde and Cheryl Ann Thomas. This assembly of ceramic sculptures and woven tapestries is focused on a recent series created by the artists through a year-long artistic exchange in 2020-2021. The exhibition will also include pieces by both artists beyond the series to provide context.

Connected Spaces: Cheryl Ann Thomas + Michael F. Rohde is curated by Jo Lauria, Adjunct Curator.

Michael Rohde and Cheryl Ann Thomas are longtime friends whose art practices were markedly different: Rohde, a weaver, worked with threads and loom; Thomas, a ceramist, utilized clay and kiln. The exhibition’s genesis developed from the concept of interchange: the act of mutually giving and receiving and the exchange of ideas. The artists first identified the common ground in their art practices from this launching site and asked critical questions about their motivations and commitments.

Cheryl Ann Thomas“Friendships enhance individuals through an interchange of ideas. Something new emerges that might not have been imagined. In looking at Michael’s work, I consider colors and patterns that I might not have thought of – his approach is unique and considered. The materials we use have commonalities. Color comes from natural materials; his forms are built up slowly, as are mine. Both works have a similar continuous line. Since my coils are not smoothed out, people often mistake my pieces for woven objects. Our methods of constructing a form, line by line, are slow and contemplative. What would happen if we agreed to create a new body of work based on a consideration of how fiber and clay could speak to each other? How would collaboration lead us to a new direction in our separate disciplines? We have agreed to commit ourselves to this investigation.”

Michael Rohde“There are so many commonalities between how Cheryl and I approach our own art-making, as Cheryl has cited. To these, I would add the vector of time: each process is slow in execution with long hours working in isolation, hence the meditative aspect of our processes. Beyond that, we both use our medium with a contrarian approach. What ceramist would over-fire her carefully built forms? Why would a weaver depart from centuries of trying to turn representational paintings into woven images? We both chose to break the rules of our craft and make something new. Taking the approach further, we decided to embark on this joint project, breaking out of our isolated practices and entering into an interchange of ideas, forms, and the expression of both.”

During the exchange period, Cheryl changed to a different clay body for a distinctive series of vessels, shifting from her studio porcelain that produced an opaque finish to one formulated to produce translucency when fired. Michael reacted to this shift by varying the materials and scale of the tapestries that represent this distinct series. Responding to the reflective qualities of the new pieces, Michael selected silk yarns to weave the vessel profiles, as silk is a more lustrous material than the wool he had been using to execute the previous tapestries. Further, since the vessels in this series were of a smaller scale, Michael reduced the size of the weavings to better correspond to the more diminutive proportions. In the design of the exhibition, the plan is to separate this group of translucent vessels and silk weavings to amplify their connection – just one of several revelations to be savored in Connected Spaces.

Learn more about the exhibition here.