Humor in Clay: Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy and ‘Sleight of Hand’

Jan 15, 2021

On January  7 at 7:00 pm ET, Trust Talk participants escaped the news for an evening of humor and funk. Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, Assistant Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, shared her lively exhibition Sleight of Hand and was joined in conversation with Garth Johnson, Curator at the Everson Museum. Angelik’s exhibition, on view at the Center for Craft through January 22, explores how contemporary ceramic artists use humor to break down defensive walls. The exhibition showcases the work of six contemporary artists, all of whom are people of color. By focusing on the work of diverse artists, Angelik’s exhibition does important work in creating space for these voices in a field that has a history of underrepresentation. 

Angelik began her lecture by providing context for her work with contemporary ceramics with the funk movement. The funk movement was anti-establishment at its core and is difficult to define. The movement is generally understood to have begun in the 1950s with artists and craftsmen like subversive ceramicist Robert Arneson creating figurative work meant to evoke a response in the viewer. 

These funk artists scratched the surface of humor that we see being employed by contemporary ceramicists today. Artists like Woody De Othello use humor to lure viewers into difficult subjects.  In his piece, Outward and Outbound, a faucet is recognizable but rendered functionless in its contoured form. The humor is in the subtraction of anticipated function. Angelik noted that the piece clearly shows there is “something going on internally.” Her poignant description of the piece goes on to note that it is an anthropomorphized form without any facial features or bodily forms. In this way, Angelik notes, Othello has created a form that connects to the universalities of human experience rather than the physicality of being human. 

After discussing the five other artists that are central to her exhibition, Angelik finished her lecture with a conversation with Garth Johnson. The two talked about the importance of different materials during the funk movement as well as the meaning of craft as a continuation of decorative arts. Garth noted how fun it was to play with definitions of art and craft and to expand the boundaries of how objects are appreciated and understood. 

Hear more about these incredible artists and take some time for yourself. Enjoy our January Trust Talk here: 


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About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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