Skip to content

MOA Challenges Traditional Notions of Clay with Premiere Exhibition


The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC presents the exhibition, “Playing with Fire: Ceramics of the Extraordinary”, on display from November 22, to March 29, 2020. Showcasing a group of 11 highly celebrated BC-based artists — Judy Chartrand, Ying-Yueh Chuang, Gathie Falk, Jeremy Hatch, Ian Johnston, David Lambert, Glenn Lewis, Alywn O’Brien, Bill Rennie, Debra Sloan, and Brendan Tang. This premiere exhibition of ceramic works expresses strong opinions on urgent social issues and offers subtle perspectives on the state of our contemporary world. While at first glance these works may appear very approachable through a lens of nostalgia, beauty, or humour, upon closer inspection they reveal much deeper commentaries on social injustice, racism, identity, and censorship.

These artists bring fresh, playful, and challenging perspectives of the art form. Visitors will be encouraged to discover new meanings and uncover complexities hidden, often in plain sight, within the works.

For this exhibition, more than 35 ceramic installations will be on display — some of which are epic in scale, including Johnston’s The Antechamber (2010–2012), in which a 25-foot-long room is covered with a repeating, grid-like motif of ceramic elements, created through a vacuum-forming process.

Another piece in the exhibition is Chartrand’s 2006 installation entitled “Counteract”. Upon first glance, Chartrand has recreated a diner’s bar with stools but closer inspection addresses important Indigenous issues and reveals biting commentary on racism and segregation, particularly in the context of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The 11 artists featured in Playing with Fire boldly challenge long-held notions of the functionality of clay — they have released this unassuming yet utterly transformable material from this constraint to create extraordinary works of art. Visitors will be awe-inspired by the power of each work and compelled to reconsider their own perceptions of clay as an art form.

The exhibition opens on Nov. 21, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the MOA located at 6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver.