The Daily Gamecock

Public 'house party' downtown promotes clay artistry in new way

In light of Columbia’s total solar eclipse and monthly First Thursday tradition, Tapp’s Arts Center became home to a two-month “house party” that required no special invite.

Executive director Caitlin Bright was responsible for organizing the exhibit. Tapp’s seeks to push artists’ boundaries, not only in the creativity of their art, but also in presentation, often finding ways to exhibit work in a refreshing way.

Bright asked the Midlands Clay Arts Society to work on designing a themed exhibition for Tapp's windows. Both the City of Columbia’s Art Center and MCAS are moving to downtown Columbia, so she saw it as an opportunity to bring local artists together.

"The Midlands Clay Arts Society is an amalgam of clay artists, whose works vary ... but they came together and created a cohesive story to present their group while highlighting their individual talents," Bright said.

The Tapp's exhibit in collaboration with MCAS first opened Aug. 3. MCAS invited guests to celebrate the eclipse with a collection of domestically themed pottery by Columbia artists. According to MCAS, the exhibition features numerous clay pieces that showcased “all the creative, beautiful and functional ways clay can be used in the home.”

A couple of works by MCAS members include “The Seeker,” a piece by Debbie Patwin that modeled a deerskin hammock, and “Tea-and-Tarts,” a set by Chantelle Janelle that modeled tea cups and tea plates. Exhibition pieces were displayed inside four windows on Main Street and seven windows on Blanding Street.

Elisabeth Donato, former ceramics major at USC and now vice president of MCAS, attended the event on opening day as an exhibitor. She stated that “[her] education gave [her] a deeper understanding of what exactly goes into creating a cohesive exhibition of work.”

The exhibition was very popular among passersby and drew attention to an otherwise unannounced local group of artists.

“It has attracted every walk of life and interest to the windows and has been a great way to celebrate and share the talent of clay artists in Columbia,” Bright said.

Donato says you don't have to like or "get" a piece in order to fully understand and respect it.

"What you have to do is remove your own personal opinions from the equation and just appreciate that … you’re looking at an entire creative process, start to finish,” said Donato.

The party closes its doors Sept. 28, but pictures of featured pieces can be viewed on MCAS’s Instagram @midlandsclayart. Tapp’s is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Its next exhibition, Wild in Wonderland, features work by USC painting program graduate Lauren Chapman and will be on display Oct. 5-28.