Art captivates at Renwick Gallery

T1he silence stood out to me when I entered the Renwick Gallery, one of the Smithsonian museums. Then, the large staircase leading to the upper level caught my eye and curiosity.
The gallery was showcasing four artists on the first floor. The upper level was the permanent artwork.
On the left, observers could view Jennifer Trask’s materials combined beautifully. Her work appeared simple, until I read the description cards.
One of her pieces, “Landscape,” included various bone fragments, spliced antler vines, cast resin mixed with bone, calcium carbonate and bone char underpainting.
As I continued, Trask’s artwork eventually blended into Steven Young Lee’s exhibit. Lee’s work included porcelains dealing with both Western and Eastern traditions. My favorite pieces from his exhibit were the “Cloisonne Pattern Vase” and “Peonies Vase.”
Continuing to the back was a larger room shared by the artists Norwood Viviano and Kristen Morgin.
Viviano’s artwork consisted of glass and metal that shows the rise and fall of American cities. Hanging from the ceiling were blown glass hovering over maps of cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. On the wall behind the maps were dates to represent a timeline.
Next to Viviano’s exhibit was Morgin’s. Her approach to ceramics was unconventional, and she used unfired clay with large objects such as pianos and tiny little trinkets she owns.

My favorite piece from her section was the hauntingly beautiful “Piano Forte” made of unfired clay, wood, wire, salt, cement and glue to create a life-sized piano. In this piece, a large portion of the piano was missing and the remainder is broken and fragile.
Upstairs, four rooms were filled with all kinds of pieces from different artists. The one I enjoyed the most was “The Greek Slave,” a statue in the middle of the room showing a naked woman bearing her breasts and butt.
At the Renwick Gallery, it was a treat to see such amazing artwork from so many artists. Each artist had a different style that could provoke awe and questions. Within the silence of the gallery, nothing was short of being loud and elegant.

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Elizabeth Kessel