Night Gallery is pleased to present The Yearning, an exhibition of sculptures by Julia Haft-Candell. This is the artist’s second solo presentation with the gallery, following Interlocking in 2020.
At the center of Julia Haft-Candell’s expansive practice resides a glossary of symbols which include hands, eyes, the infinity sign, and “the yearning”—a vast, creative space. The artist shapes, unites, glazes, and fires these elements throughout her ceramics practice. They also appear across her original, hand-drawn and watercolor divination deck. Pedagogy is similarly integral to her work; Haft-Candell teaches courses at her L.A. studio that provide ceramics education outside the constraints of institutional settings.
All this work falls under the umbrella of “The Infinite,” the artist’s term for the alternate, nearly science fictional universe that she continues inventing via each new project. In September, the artist opened her first institutional exhibition, a major two-part show entitled The Yet to Be, at Pitzer College Art Galleries (on view through December 8). At Night Gallery, she opens her related presentation, The Yearning. The show features ceramic sculptures positioned on a tiered structure, and the artist will be in residence for public card readings from her divination deck as well. Her presentation strategy pays homage to the steps in Raphael's Renaissance fresco The School of Athens (c. 1509-11) and to the artist's larger pedagogical interests—while critiquing the patriarchal “heroes" in the original painting. The Yearning furthers the artist’s “Infinite” philosophy and generates new language for thinking about collaboration, craft, and the future.
Ceramic “hands/feelers” are a repeated motif throughout the show, reaching skyward or towards each other. Haft-Candell occasionally integrates her grandmother’s jewelry into the clay, literally embedding her work with relics of her matrilineal ancestry. She carves symbols such as infinity signs, eyes, and chains into her sculptures and adorns her ceramic fingers with “bits of nothing/ everything”—runny clay clumps and glazing that suggest fluidity and something elemental.
Throughout all her ceramics, Haft-Candell celebrates imperfections. She overfires her works, or she applies glazes so thick that they become sculptural intonations in their own right. Haft Candell also adds bronze pieces to her surfaces. In the kiln, they melt and disrupt her glazes with viridian and gun metal streaks. Throughout all her ceramics, Haft-Candell celebrates imperfections. She overfires her works, or she applies glazes so thick that they become sculptural intonations in their own right. Haft-Candell also adds bronze pieces to her surfaces. In the kiln, they melt and disrupt her glazes with viridian and gun metal streaks. As the artist both skews and honors ceramic traditions, she welcomes what she calls beautiful, “failed moments.”
On a wide platform at the bottom of her tiered structure, Haft-Candell exhibits two ceramic chairs separated by a ceramic table with a walnut surface. When the artist is not activating this installation, entitled Infinite Reading Room, with her divination readings, it continues to suggest a site of meaningful, personal exchange.
Altogether, The Yearning rejects binary systems and embraces the unknown. What might happen in a kiln, or in our collective future, remains mysterious. In the face of uncertainty, Haft-Candell creates new forms. Made from our earth, they imagine other, better possible realms.
PUBLIC PERFORMANCE: Activating Infinite Reading Room
Haft-Candell will be in residence at Night Gallery from 12PM—3PM on the following dates:
December 1, 9, and 22
Gallery visitors may ask the artist for readings from her divination deck, selecting three cards that Haft-Candell will interpret to reflect on their past, present, and future.