By Tracy Shaffer
The Denver Art Museum's current offering is a mud pie for the senses. With the most basic of themes, earth, this global exhibition brings together time and place to reveal how the artist deals with dirt. Curators from around the museum present their earthenwares in ways that honor the simultaneous beauty and function of the Coors Porcelain Company's vessels, the aesthic simplicity and eternal popularity of the blue & white ceramic, and the exquisite work of Native American potter, Nampeyo, who built a name for herself and a family legacy through her creations.
Beginning this museum wide exhibition from the Ponti building is critical as you move from a more standard vision of the "mud" theme and pull back to reveal the much broader scope of creative interperetation. Photographers show us their "Dirty Pictures" with aerial shots of earth in natural and unnatural design. Visceral images of Brazilian miners crawling up ladders and out of the pit inspire awe and understanding of how much sweat and blood mankind has worked into our soil. Poetic postings stenciled on walls bring us metaphoric musings on the power and connection we ground ourselves in. Moving from the Ponti to the Hamilton building the whole exhibit spins out in a whimsical whir of walk-through wonderland. Ceramicists and conceptual artists throw words and ideas around getting down and dirty with their heavenly, earthy creations.