Connected Spaces Press Release

Connected Spaces: Cheryl Ann Thomas and Michael F. Rohde
Jan 6 – Mar 4, 2023
Gallery NAGA

Gallery NAGA welcomes 2023 with a selection of works by two artists, Cheryl Ann Thomas and Michael F. Rohde, in a feat of interdisciplinary collaboration. This exhibition was first organized by the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona California and curated by Jo Lauria, Adjunct Curator for the American Museum of Ceramic Art and a design historian based in Los Angeles, California.

Connected Spaces is on exhibition January 6 through March 4.  A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, January 6 from 5 to 7 pm.

A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Helen Lee, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, accompanied the exhibition from which the following excerpts are taken.

This exhibition was conceived by curator Jo Lauria during the isolating days of the pandemic in 2020. It explores the concept of interchange: the act of mutually giving and receiving, and the exchange of ideas. The exhibition debuts a new collaborative body of work by two California-based artists, ceramist Cheryl Ann Thomas and weaver Michael F. Rohde.

Non-linear explorations, both virtual and physical, of the craft and design community produce surprising results. It was during visits to the studios of longtime friends Cheryl Ann Thomas and Michael F. Rohde that a curiosity was sparked, and a thread of an idea snagged in my mind. The art practices of the two friends were markedly different: Michael, a weaver, worked with threads and loom; Cheryl, a ceramist, utilized clay and kiln. The artworks previously created by each were distinctive in their areas, and each artist has been acknowledged for advancing their respective field through original approaches to materials and techniques.

Despite their differences in materials and approaches, there is an underlying kinship in their art practices, rooted in collective craft histories and experiences. Amidst the profound physical separation of the pandemic, I proposed a “call and response” to yield an exhibition of woven textiles and ceramic vessels. The unifying concept would be direct reaction to each other’s artwork. The artists would determine the methodology and devote a year to creating work that actualized the idea.
—Jo Lauria

Artist Statements about each other’s work:
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.
—Cheryl Ann Thomas

Weaving thread by thread and hand-building coil by coil require long hours working in isolation, hence the meditative aspect of our processes. But we are also rebels. 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.
—Michael F. Rohde