Exhibit blends tapestry with sculpture

“Light” by ceramicist Cheryl Ann Thomas is on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona as part of the “Connect Spaces” show. The exhibition mixes the two different art styles of Thomas and tapestry weaver Michael Rohde. / photo by Ethan Bermudez
“Light” by ceramicist Cheryl Ann Thomas is on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona as part of the “Connect Spaces” show. The exhibition mixes the two different art styles of Thomas and tapestry weaver Michael Rohde. / photo by Ethan Bermudez

Robyn Jones
Staff Writer

The American Museum of Ceramic Art held a reception for the newest exhibition “Connected Spaces” with about 40 people in attendance on Saturday.

Ceramic artist Cheryl Ann Thomas and tapestry weaver and artist Michael Rohde were invited by museum curator Jo Lauria to collaborate to put their different art styles into one show.

Lauria explained that this exhibition was a “call and response project” that took a year to complete. Both artists were separated in their studios, sending pictures of their creations to each other to replicate in their art style.

“We both kept our independence and proceeded on our own to respond to the challenge,” Thomas said.

A creative choice both artists made was the type of clay and thread they would be creating their pieces on.

Thomas said she had to switch porcelain clay bodies from an opaque finish to have more translucency after firing. Rohde switched from his usual wool tapestries to smaller silk yarn made tapestries in order to compliment the light and translucent look the sculptures made.

Upon entering the gallery the audience is greeted with fabric like sculptures paired with a beautiful color coordinated mosaic tapestry.

Looking into Rohde’s tapestries, viewers can see the shape of Thomas’s sculptures within. The color, shading, and shape of the sculptures were weaved and replicated exquisitely.

“It was a challenge because I wanted to do something different than I’ve done before,” Rohde said. “I’ve done a series of tapestries with faces, so I wanted to take that and do something different.”

Up close Thomas’s pieces display fine details and curvatures on the porcelain clay bodies.

Some of the sculptures seemed almost too soft to touch.

Lynn Ballantyne, Santa Barbara resident and board member for AMOCA, attended this event because she wanted to see how the tapestries would pair with the sculptures.

“I think the colors are amazing, but also how she went to a different clay and he went to a different thread was fascinating to me,” Ballantyne said.

Observing Thomas’s sculptures, Ronald McGregor, a Sherman Oaks resident, was amazed by the shape the sculpture had made. McGregor attended this event with his friend who is also an AMOCA board member.

“The textures about the tapestries were really cool, and the ceramics are just absolutely amazing,” McGregor said. “I’ve never seen anything like this collaboration.”

Thomas shared her insight about the exhibition and her approach.

“The process does whatever it wants to do,” she said. “I have no idea how it’s going to look, I can’t draw, I can’t look, I just put it in the kiln and the kiln does whatever it’s going to do.”

With 20 years of experience with ceramics, Thomas shared that she was initially a painting major in college. She was introduced to sculpting clay when she took a class. She saw that clay could be an art form – not just pretty dishes.

Rohde said he was inspired by a hand-woven top that he had seen. He was so intrigued that he decided to make himself a shirt.

“I never wove the shirt, but I started weaving rugs for the floor,” Rohde said. “I did that for a number of years and at some point I came to the realization that all the rugs I was selling were winding up on peoples walls instead.”

With that realization he decided to switch over to making tapestries.

For more information, visit amoca.org.

Robyn Jones can be reached at robyn.jones2@laverne.edu.

Ceramicist Cheryl Ann Thomas’ “Gray Cypher” is paired with weaver Michael Rohde’s response piece, “re: Gray Cypher” at "Connected Spaces," the American Museum of Ceramic Art's new exhibition on view through Aug. 21. The exhibit mixes ceramic art and hand-woven tapestries with an array of neutral colors into one show. / photo by Ethan Bermudez
Ceramicist Cheryl Ann Thomas’ “Gray Cypher” is paired with weaver Michael Rohde’s response piece, “re: Gray Cypher” at “Connected Spaces,” the American Museum of Ceramic Art’s new exhibition on view through Aug. 21. The exhibit mixes ceramic art and hand-woven tapestries with an array of neutral colors into one show. / photo by Ethan Bermudez
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Robyn Jones is a senior journalism major and sports editor for the Campus Times. She is also a member of Iota Delta and a freelance photographer whose work can be found on Instagram at @jnaisphotos.

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Ethan Bermudez, a sophomore photography and political science major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at bermudezproductions.com..

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