Friday, July 8, 2016

New Freer-Sackler Exhibit is a Buddhist Temple to Consumer Excess — and a Critique of it

By Sadie Dingfelder
Walter McConnell made ‘Dark Stupa’ out of dozens of knick-knacks, including beer steins and candle holders. (Cross-McKenzie Gallery)
WASHINGTON, DC---As a teenager, ceramics artist Walter McConnell sometimes picked up supplies at the equivalent of today’s “paint a pot” studios. He got his wish. In “Chinamania,” which opens at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on Saturday, McConnell has arranged dozens of ceramic curios into gracefully curved mounds that are reminiscent of stupas, religious structures that house Buddhist relics. But instead of buying the tchotchkes, McConnell made his own versions using molds from those old-school paint-a-pot stores. The result? A mesmerizing mix of high and low art, exhibit curator Lee Glazer says. [link]

Smithsonian/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: "Chinamania" (July 9, 2016–June 4, 2017); 1050 Independence Ave. SW; 1050 Independence Ave SW; Washington, DC; (202)633-4880;