Exhibit of ceramics and photographs by Tyler alum shines light on 2020 Black Lives Matter protests – The Temple News
Isaac Scott took a ceramics class in high school in 2007 and was amazed to see his teacher create works of art out of clay using a potter’s wheel.
“The potter’s wheel felt like magic, with the way the clay moved,” said Scott, a 2021 MFA Ceramics alumnus. “I really wanted to emulate that and be able to create very beautiful shapes on the wheel.”
After a decade of creating ceramics in art studios and exploring other art forms, Scott’s work is featured in an exhibition titled “When the Cracks Deepen” at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens from 10 June to September 4. Scott’s exhibit has two galleries that combine ceramics depicting both crumbling infrastructure and social injustice in Philadelphia with photos he took during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
After losing access to his student art studio at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Scott took long walks through his neighborhood Strawberry Mansion and took photos of aging buildings.
His photography shifted the focus from buildings to Black Lives Matter protests as he attended protests across Philadelphia after George Floyd was murdered by police in May 2020.
“After going to that first protest, I was like, wow, this is a different energy,” Scott said. “I’ve been to many protests before, but it felt different.”
Scott felt his photography gave him a role in the movement by telling the story in a profound way.
“It’s really important that we people who are protesting realize our own place in history and that we need to tell our story, especially black and brown people,” Scott said.
Chelsey Luster, the exhibit manager at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, saw Scott’s artwork after they met in 2019 when Scott attended an artist talk for an art show she curated, said Luster. Thereafter, she followed her work and attended her graduation show at Tyler in 2021.
“It was the first time I really saw all of his work displayed at once,” Luster said. “Then I knew that when I got a more permanent position in a gallery or a museum, I would like to have a solo show with him.”
Luster began working at the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia in February 2022, where she plans upcoming exhibits by selecting artists and artwork to participate.
Luster emailed Scott in February asking if he was interested in a solo show, she said.
While Luster and Scott were creating “When the Cracks Deepen”, Luster visited his studio and saw all of his ceramics and photographs. Subsequently, they collectively decided to integrate the two elements into the exhibition to create a link between the work.
“I know I wanted it to be super immersive, but also to have this great relationship with the photography and the ceramic work, so it all comes together nicely and really seamlessly,” Luster said.
The first gallery contains small ceramic pieces, including cups. Some of the cups resemble the environment Scott observed in North Philadelphia, while others are included in “#Riot Cups,” pieces that depict his time at the protests.
He also included pieces like handmade clay balls on his mugs to highlight issues like gun violence in the city.
“What I’m trying to convey is how, not just physically, but metaphorically, how our environment can accumulate on us and how do we retain it and how do we carry it with us,” Scott said.
In the second gallery, there’s a mural of a transgender woman Scott photographed at a protest holding a microphone and wearing a shirt that reads “I AM BLACK HISTORY.”
The mural represents the idea of power in the individual storytelling of historical events like the protests, he said.
“I think we should recognize those moments and show up for them,” Scott said. “And when we show up for them, then we would have to, again, tell our own stories somehow, like people have newspapers or something.”
Lauren Sandler, assistant professor of ceramics, remembers having many discussions with Scott in his graduate projects, ceramics class about his involvement in the protests and how he wanted to represent that with objects in his ceramics.
“Generally looking at the progress of his work over the last two years now, both the work itself and seeing what he’s done with it, and also seeing how it’s received and shared within many artistic communities and spaces is really exciting to see,” said Sandler.
Scott would rather document the story himself than see it from another person’s perspective. By depicting protests and decaying infrastructure in his ceramics, Scott provides insight into national issues and the need to address social injustices, such as police violence in black and brown communities.
“It’s great to expose these people to this story and even two years later, after these photos were taken, this story remains fresh in people’s minds, and it reminds them of the things that still need to be done. in this country,” Scott said. .
Scott plans to continue ceramics and photography, and explore other art forms, such as screen printing and short films, he said.
“I just find ways to keep making art,” Scott said. “That’s the main goal, in any form.”