Williamson Gallery's "Making Fun" Brings Play to Clay

By Asia Morris '12 Staff Writer

Tim Berg is the Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Pitzer College and this year’s guest curator of The Scripps College Ceramic Annual. Professor Berg has also taught at Louisiana State and Ohio Universities, and has exhibited his work in a variety of solo exhibitions around the world, from Sweden to New York. The show will continue through Sunday, April 3 and includes the following artists: Barnaby Barford, Pattie Chalmeres, Gerit Grimm, Ayumi Hori & Sara Varon, Janice Jakielski, Matthew McConnell, Peter Morgan, Thomas Muller, Brendan Tang and Matt Wedel.

Berg gave a lecture in the Humanities Auditorium on Jan. 22 to fill us in on the laborious joys of developing the 67th Scripps College Ceramic Annual: “Making Fun.” Berg read his lecture, slowly, as if attempting to give his audience ample time to really ponder each idea, before moving on to the next topic. His PowerPoint presentation kept viewers engaged, and small bouts of laughter ensued every minute or two in reaction to Berg’s “making fun” of the curatorial process. He spoke to an attentive audience of students, professors, friends and collegiate contemporaries. Before he began, he graciously and comically thanked his wife, informing his audience that the reason they would not be sleeping during his talk was because of her superb skills in editing.

He then proceeded into summarizing each section of his presentation so that we would understand which artists he would be talking about. He touched upon the individual pieces in the show and how they fit into the overall theme. He spoke about working with each artist and some of the different interactions he had had with them and their artwork. Berg spoke about the traditional seriousness associated within the art sphere and how this exhibition was chosen to “affirm the value of play, a creative state requiring openness, vulnerability, and creativity.”

Few questions were asked at the close of the lecture, except for one man’s inquiry into the absurdity and, in his opinion, inappropriateness of making fun of the sinking of the Titanic. Berg sort of chuckled at the man’s critique, and gracefully acknowledged that yes, the Titanic seen sinking next to an ice cream bar did make light of the awful tragedy, but that reacting to tragedy merrily with grief and solemnity is simply not as healing or fun as taking these past events lightly. Making fun of something tragic is a better way to respond to an inherently negative thing, and what better way to respond happily and with laughter than with grief, sadness or regret?

When asked how he whittled the exhibition down to these eleven artists, Berg said “Well, I started out with 53…” Astonished murmurs could be heard from the back of the auditorium as Berg went on to explain that the more he worked individually with each artist, the easier it was for him to better understand the theme.