Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Senior majors Yuan Liu and Laura Post are showing their work in ceramics, print, and oil painting at the List Gallery. Their work reflects their passion for the creative process as well as the journeys that each took to finding their respective media.
Yuan Liu’s ceramics explore the possibilities of delicate and translucent porcelain. Liu says of her work, “I hope that people can see things they expect in ceramics and things they don’t expect.” The pieces “interrogate” the function of ceramics, taking the typical cup or bowl and subtly shifting it in ways that recall anemones and bones, yet with a totally distinct quiddity.
For Liu, the choice of ceramicwork was in itself an unexpected journey. Though Liu had explored the medium in coursework at Swarthmore with Professor Syd Carpenter, it was not until she worked in ceramics over the summer at the Chautauqua School of Art that she found herself working increasingly in the ceramics studio. Initially interested in working in landscape painting at Chautauqua, Liu discovered working in porcelain as a way to “break out and do something new.”
The translucency of porcelain as a medium allowed Liu to work with the same attention to light that she attended as a painter. The pieces in the List present a range of surprises from glittering glass interiors and landscape like glazes to carved windows and luminous panels. Each piece also attests to a tremendous amount of labor and exploration. Liu notes that “To get one piece that is good for a show, you need to make ten that will get destroyed along the way.” Though this may sound frustrating, Liu has found the “resilience” required to work with her medium as one of the most beneficial parts of her experience.
Laura Post’s work in oil painting and printmaking also reflects an interaction of interests. Principally figurative work with a special attention to the patterns of cloth, Post’s paintings and prints seem to bring their subjects to the fore as though they were moving off of the wall and towards the viewer.
Post, who transferred to Swarthmore from Kenyon College, worked initially in drawing and figure drawing and after coming to Swarthmore, worked with printmaking. Her love of printmaking her led to study in China with an artist who had shown at the List in 2005. The influence of this experience was a strong one, two of the pieces in her show come from her study in China, and Post attributes her understanding of “the weight of a line, [and] the power of a line” to her study of Chinese printmaking.
Post rediscovered painting while painting from life. “The experience of painting without a photograph, without planning, the immediacy got me back into painting again,” she recalls. In what may reflect her interest in Japanese prints, Post’s work in both media dynamically posits pattern and form in a way that moves the eye convincingly through her image while also creating intriguing visual rhythms. Her pieces are also demonstrate an able transition in scale from relatively small etchings to impressively broad canvasses.
Having had the opportunity to see their work in the gallery, both Post and Liu noted the satisfaction of seeing the work “make sense” and in sequence. Post noted enjoying the various reactions to her work from visitors, observing that “Though I hadn’t necessarily thought it out, the work seems to have spoken in a way I would have wanted.”
The List Gallery is open from noon until 5pm today, Monday, May 11.