Newly arrived curator Elizabeth Kozlowski (she joined the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft staff just a month ago) was still installing the exhibit “Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse” when we spoke to her. She told us she was struck not only by the forms McHorse created, but also by the works’ surfaces. “They’re really very curvilinear and that really accentuates the light on the pieces,” she said. “Rubbing the surface creates a shine, a sparkle on the pieces.” McHorse, a Navajo, first learned how to make pots from her husband’s grandmother, Lena Archuleta, a Taos Pueblo potter. Later she studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Working with micaceous clay, a naturally occurring clay in the Taos area, McHorse mixed traditional materials and techniques to achieve some very non-traditional results. “That’s due to her form and scale,” Kozlowski tells us. McHorse’s pieces in this exhibit, created between 1990 and 2013, range from 14 to 27 inches tall. “They are on the larger side, and her scale is actually something…that sets her apart for traditional native American pottery. They tend to be larger and definitely more sculptural. They still refer to the vessel, so I think she’s still influenced by her culture and her roots, so she’s taking it to a whole other level.
“They’re very organic. They have points and spirals and interiors and exteriors. You can’t necessarily get inside of them, so there is a difference from a vessel. Most of them are enclosed and they do tend to have that definitely bulbous, linear bottom, which references a traditional vessel, but they expand from that bulbous bottom into more organic forms on the top.”
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10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through May 11. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main. For information, call 713-529-4848 or visit crafthouston.org. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays, 12-5 p.m. Starts: Feb. 7. Continues through May 11, 2014