Franz Kaka is proud to present Spring Now Comes Unheralded, a solo exhibition by New York-based Canadian artist Stephanie Temma Hier. In this new body of sculptural wall work, Hier engages the history of ceramic vessels to address themes of food production and consumption, filling her frames with stock-piled images harvested from the Internet. Hier’s practice mines the abundant yet fleeting resource of digitized imagery, fixing them to canvas against which ceramic interventions assert their own, and painting’s, sculptural presence.
The recent addition of a kiln to Hier’s studio has provided new opportunities for material experimentation, allowing her to mix her own glazes while fostering a deeper connection with the medium’s history. Ceramics have long been used as a means of re-articulating their maker’s immediate lived world, gestures that replicate and aestheticize natural forms for functional purposes, like food storage. An organic antecedent to this history is the bottle gourd (lagenaria siceraria), one of the world’s first domesticated plants, which quickly reached ubiquity for its versatility, being used as fishnet floats, musical instruments, symbolic ritual vessels, or light and durable food containers. Search an online collection for ‘gourd’ and the yield is high. Hier is particularly drawn to these examples, especially those which feature layers of woven rope and leather to make the ceramic gourd grow taller. Here, Hier reengages this technique in An oyster may be crossed in love (2020), weaving leather sculpture into stoneware that parallels the fishnet it contains and recalls the buoyancy of bottle gourds.
Hier’s interests also include recent animation histories, specifically referencing Czech New Wave claymation artist Jan Švankmajer in the exaggerated tongue of Heart and stomach of a king (2020). Švankmajer’s animated short film, Dimensions of Dialogue (Možnosti dialogu; 1983) features a scene in which surreal heads, reminiscent of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, cyclically devour and purge one another until foodstuffs and objects reduce into a reproducible figure of humanoid clay. It is an example of violent, gluttonous consumption. Yet there is a more passive model of food production already on the table: the bottle gourd. Crossing the Atlantic propelled by currents and winds, the buoyant bottle gourd was a vessel for its own seeds, arriving unheralded.
- Clara Puton, 2020
Stephanie Temma Hier (b. 1992, Toronto, Canada) lives and works in New York. She holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, and studied at the Academy of Art Canada, Toronto. She has produced solo and two person exhibitions at Y2K Group (New York), David Dale (Glasgow), Downs and Ross (New York), Neochrome Gallery (Turin), Three Four Three Four (New York), Ed. Varie Gallery at NADA (New York) and Johannes Vogt (New York). Hier has exhibited at international venues including, Antoine Ertaskiran (Montreal), Thierry Goldberg (New York), Plus One Gallery (Antwerp), Anonymous Gallery (Mexico City), Bureau (New York), The Kitchen (New York), Museo della Frutta (Turin), The Power Plant (Toronto), and Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). She is the recipient of multiple grants from Canada Council for the Arts and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, and has participated in residencies at Hospitalfield (Scotland), Shandaken: Stormking (New York), and Salon Nino Mier (Cologne). Hier was a finalist for the RBC Painting competition in 2016 and 2018.
The artist dedicates this exhibition to the memory of her dear friend Emma Youd.