Joan Bankemper

January 20 - February 19, 2011

Nancy Hoffman’s first Projects Space show of 2011 is new ceramic sculptures of bird habitats and dwellings by Joan Bankemper, opening on January 20th and continuing through February 19th. More sculptural, more painterly, more complex than her earlier sculptures, these works combine hand-building, hand-coiling and collaging collectibles by breaking, rebuilding and rescuing shards of former shapes in a symphonic array of color.

Each vessel-oriented sculpture circles around a color and garden motif, which sets the stage for the artist’s flights of fancy. The pieces bring the blossoming gardens of spring and summer from nature into the gallery with bursting life. In “Hudson Valley Bird Study I,” a bevy of blue, green and yellow hand-sculpted birds clamber atop an antique Hudson Valley coffee pot depicting a scene of the famous river in a glazed roundel. The birds take their cues from the colors of the antique pot and appear to be flying in and out of the apertures of the hand-coiled tree-like structure atop the coffee pot. The entirety shimmers with blue, gold and movement.

Bankemper writes about her new work:

“In this new body of sculpture I have been exploring and building bird habitats. Birds like to nest in holes, thus I began building forms of clay coils incorporating cavities- -inspired by Fontana and his slit paintings.

“In ‘Bluebird and Moss,’ the glazing functions like the surface of a painting on which I placed hand-built birds, bees and flowers, and added antique dishes, pots, etc., as color and iconographical accents. The sculptural elements are as important as the painterly ones. The pieces are layered and dense, at the same time light and airy. They are truly three-dimensional, each side or angle a different experience and a different array of images--cascading, tumbling, dancing. Since my sculptures are gardens, they celebrate fecundity and the female.

“This year in the Hudson Valley, I created a garden specifically dedicated to growing food for migrating and full-time resident birds. In the summer yellow finches fed on Himalayan sunflower and echinacea; later hummingbirds enjoyed the nectar of scarlet runner beans; in the early fall black-capped chickadees and bluebirds enjoyed sunflower seeds. Nothing was as satisfying as sitting in the garden and studying the birds. I try to capture this sensation in my new work.

“In addition to the concept of ‘dwellings,’ I incorporate a ritual shape, the ‘loving cup,’ a large urn with two large handles used after the harvest. This ‘grace cup’ was filled and passed around a celebratory table. All would first kiss the cup, and then each guest would drink wine from the trophy to celebrate the fall harvest. Not only does the shape reverberate in my sculptures, but also the spirit of ritual.”

Joan Bankemper was born in Covington, Kentucky in 1959. She received a B.F.A. from Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri and an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College

of Art, Mount Royal Graduate School, Baltimore. She also attended Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights and the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Sugaman Foundation, California, the North Carolina Arts Council and the Council on the Environment, New York; and The Gabi Award, McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Her work has been shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; California; and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Her work has also been exhibited in many other venues such as Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania; ArtPace, San Antonio; Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, New York; Wave Hill, Bronx, New York as well as extensively in Italy, including Abbazia di San Martino delle Scale, Palermo.

The artist resides in New York City.

For further information and/or photographs please call the gallery at 212-966-6676 or email

Yours sincerely,

Nancy Hoffman