Tony Marsh has long invited artists to join faculty and students in the studios of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), to closely collaborate on intricate ceramic pieces. The Ceramic Art Department at CSULB is a dynamic art space that allows artists to share in the creative process of working with clay, Marsh’s long-standing relationship with the program has led to the creation of a variety of “duets” between fourteen artists that were invited to work jointly with Marsh. The mutigenerational range of artists traverse a spectrum of artistic identities, interests, and modes of practice as they relate to the ceramic arts; the result is a riveting display of artistic perspectives.
The exhibition will feature collaborative works between Tony Marsh and Amy Bessone, Bryan Burk, Roger Herman, Anna Sew Hoy, Akinsanya Kambon, Heidi Lau, Ramekon O'Arwisters, Mai-Thu Perret, Christopher Miles, Jean-Pierre Larocque, Jennifer Rochlin, Cauleen Smith, and Tam Van Tran.
“So much of art making for experienced artists is pattern driven. To open the door and interact with another artist is to disrupt pattern, give permission, and work at building bridges to different understandings when one returns to a more solitary practice. It is only experimental when outcomes are not predetermined,” shares Marsh. Similar to an album of duets with one artist involved in the creation throughout, while collaborating with a different artist on each track, this exhibition showcases Marsh’s interest in communication and spans dynamic relationships that variously are personal, creative, collegial, and professional in origin.
Tony Marsh and Christopher Miles, for example, collaborated on Abracadabra, 2023, which stems from an agreement between the two artists that Miles would first construct a form in response to a specific location chosen by Marsh, Marsh would then respond to Miles’ construction. Simultaneously suggestive of bookends, a dissected carcass, a body cut in half by a magician, and the two halves of a vaudevillian horse costume, the work was first constructed as a single form, then sliced into two pieces and further modified, rendering a pair of components that stand as a single work. Marsh shares that “my plan all along was to saturate the form randomly with perforations. I didn’t share that because I didn’t want to precondition Chris’s thinking as he created. Chris worked additively and I worked subtractively.”
Each collaboration requires unique strategies, starting points and an ebb & flow exchange of ideas and possibilities. It is a process that organically finds its way to a point of completion. These collaborations seek a balance so that the artistic DNA of both artists is abundantly present in the completed work. “As an educator I have always wanted to be an amplifier, a facilitator and someone who incites. I have collaborated with many artists in many ways over a long period of time. It is driven by my curiosity, admiration for artists and love of art. It feels natural. I am less interested in reinforcing the established and more interested in the experimental and nudging the field of ceramics forward. Collaboration is a vehicle for that,” shares Marsh.