The Hunterdon Art Museum unveiled three new exhibitions during an opening reception on Sunday, May 21.
“Claybash 2023” explores contemporary ceramics, “Nona Hershey: In the Cloud” shows watercolors that represent the pervasiveness of digital technology, and “Monica Ong: “Planetaria” displays the intricate confluence of poetry and visual art within the ancient Chinese cosmos. Each is on view through Sept. 3.
“Claybash 2023,” in the main gallery, marks the first in a series of triennial exhibitions showcasing a diverse range of contemporary ceramics from innovative artists across the U.S. Jennifer Martin, executive director of The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, serves as this year’s juror.
HAM’s interest in ceramics traces back to the 1960s when Toshiko Takaezu, a Hunterdon County resident recognized as one of the world’s most influential ceramic artists, actively participated at the museum.
Throughout its 70-year history, HAM has hosted numerous solo and group ceramic shows, many curated by Dr. Hildreth York and Ingrid Renard. “Claybash 2023” is dedicated to York, an art historian, curator, and longtime supporter of the museum, acknowledging the pivotal role she played in strengthening HAM and the profound impact her work and wisdom had on the museum’s exhibitions program.
In the First Floor Gallery, “Nona Hershey: In the Cloud” explores, through watercolor painting, the all-pervading influence of technology on the current societal landscape. Amid a climate where many are persistently tethered to screens and coping with concerns raised by climate change, the pandemic, and social media, Hershey vividly encapsulates the omnipresent nature of our digital lifestyle.
Ironically, Hershey presents her views of technology by incorporating the natural world, specifically clouds, in her paintings.
Her work is held in esteemed public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library of Congress. She was a Professor of Printmaking at Massachusetts College of Art and Design for 25 years.
“Monica Ong: Planetaria” curated by Dr. Hildreth York, is featured in the Second Floor River Gallery. In Ong’s work, art and poetry are inseparable, creating a unique form where ideas, content, and design come together in each artwork.
“Planetaria” is deeply influenced by the ancient Chinese cosmos and its related cultural philosophies. Ong connects these ancient ideas with today’s world, revealing changing attitudes and behaviors. She uses her knowledge of astrology, astronomy, science, and poetry to critically examine traditional roles of women in society. This female gaze is a central theme in her work.
Ong, a Kundiman poetry fellow and Rhode Island School of Design graduate, is acclaimed for her innovative visual poetry. Her upcoming artist monograph is set to be published by The Artist Book Foundation.
HAM is located at 7 Lower Center St., Clinton, N.J. Visit hunterdonartmuseum.org.