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By Karen Nikos-Rose on July 24, 2019

By Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science

A survey exhibition of UC Davis Professor Annabeth Rosen’s groundbreaking ceramic sculptures, which has toured the country, opens in San Francisco on Thursday, July 25, with a free opening event Wednesday night, July 24.  “Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped,” a 20-year-survey featuring 85 sculptures and drawings, will be on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through Jan. 19, 2020.

The exhibition was organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and was also shown at the Cranbrook Art Museum at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Rosen earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan.

“Exhibitions offer you opportunities to engage in a conversation with other artists,” said Rosen, co-chair of the art and art history department and holder of the Robert Arneson Endowed Chair at UC Davis.

Valerie Cassel Oliver, exhibition curator, discovered Rosen’s work while organizing another exhibition. Rosen and Cassel Oliver started out with a much smaller exhibition in mind, but it kept expanding.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of what I do is getting to give artists a larger platform to have them better known,” said Cassel Oliver, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. “Annabeth is an artist’s artist; she has been an inspiration to generations.”

New work by Rosen, additionally, will be shown at the Virginia Museum starting in November in conjunction with the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts taking place in Richmond, Virginia.

A free opening reception will be held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum Wednesday, July 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. Several programs will be held in conjunction with the exhibition, including an Aug. 15 performance by oboist Kyle Bruckman, who teaches in the UC Davis music department.

More about the exhibition

The following description is on the museum's web site: Raised in Brooklyn by a working-class Jewish family, Rosen’s process — grounded in resourcefulness, endurance, and a strong work ethic — can be traced to her upbringing. Drawing from the ethos that everything broken can always be fixed or re-used, Rosen embraces the impulse to rescue or resurrect broken ceramic fragments. She sees both her studio and the kiln as spaces of invention, where process and chance are equally essential elements in the formation of her art.

For over two decades, Rosen has interrogated the medium of ceramics in a contemporary art context. Formally trained in ceramics, yet heavily influenced by painterly gesture, Rosen has expanded her practice to include conceptually-driven sculptural forms. Composed using laborious, additive processes, her works push the medium beyond spectacle and into conversations about contemporary painting, feminist theory, endurance-based performance, and conceptual art.

Rosen is a pioneer in the field of contemporary ceramics, bringing fluidity to the genre and its discourse with contemporary art. Within the genre’s trajectory, the artist functions as an important link among such artist as Lynda Benglis, Mary Heilmann, Jun Kaneko, Peter Voulkos, as well as a new generation of artists working in the medium.

Indeed, her linkage to such artists in the ceramics genre, and her own role in it, is feature in this San Francisco Chronicle story published July 24.

Related stories on UC Davis sculpture:

Read a more in-depth story about creation of the exhibition from 2017. 

More photos and additional information here.

Read a July San Francisco Chronicle story, "6 don't-miss exhibitions ...," about Rosen's work and that of other current UC Davis-affiliated sculptors at UC Davis and in the region.

Read an Arts Blog story about alum Nancy Rubins' sculpture exhibition in London.

Below, a video production about Rosen's current exhibition in San Francisco.