October 21 — November 25, 2017
Let Your Flowers Grow
I overlooked an orchid (while searching for a rose.)
Carl Smith, 1976
Conduit Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Anthony Sonnenberg: Let Your Flowers Grow. Rooted in a candid personal narrative, the Houston based artist’s second solo exhibition at Conduit Gallery will include sculpture, drawing, installation and video.
Anthony Sonnenberg inflects his sculptures in ceramic and brass, his photographs, videos, and drawings with Baroque, Greek mythological, and contemporary concerns. His investigations of portraiture rely on time-intensive construction methods to create totems and environments that reference the cyclical nature of growth and decay, and suggest layers of time that move beyond the art historical and into the geological and emotional.
For Sonnenberg, the reverence that drove the creation of sculptures as reliquaries for personal doubts and fears around impermanence and decay has wittingly shifted; his newest works are imbued with a sense of confidence and becoming, growth and aging. In one new series of portraits, nude figures of family, friends, and mentors float atop exquisitely rendered beds of orchids that cushion and frame these vulnerable bodies. Sonnenberg has also created two densely beaded pillow portraits depicting his parents. Constructed from a vintage quilt and ringed with ruffles, the two figures lean against one another and prop each other up, communicating a sense of soft comfort.
The personal and universal come together in Sonnenberg’s porcelain works. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a large ceramic clock. Lacking a face and half-collapsed under the weight of its making, this timepiece sits on a rusted metal shelf atop a pile of fossilized seashells. In another area of the gallery candelabras and flower vases climb up a reclaimed wooden staircase. Made from silk flowers, doilies, ceramic figurines and notions that are soaked in porcelain slip and re-fired, these solid and functional sculptures appear simultaneously delicate and riotous, caught between accumulation and falling apart.
In a new move for Sonnenberg, this exhibition includes a video portrait created during the artist’s recent residency at Ox-Bow School of Art. Using methods similar to those he uses to create his porcelain sculptures, Sonnenberg soaked knitted and crocheted textiles in clay slip and arranged them in an arch between two trees. Covering his naked body in the same liquid clay, the artist appears in front of this woodland architectural folly, striking a series of neo-classical poses that progress from framing him to offering a mannered view of the
Together this constellation of artworks is an analogue for the wear that comes with age, the transience of time, and how we come to understand our present moment through histories that are both epic and intimate.
Dean Daderko, Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Born in 1986 in Graham, TX, Anthony Sonnenberg earned a BA from the University of Texas in Austin with an emphasis in Italian and Art History in 2009 and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2012. Residencies include: Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY (2017); the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX (2016); the Lawndale Artists Studio Program, Houston, TX (2015-16); Sculpture Space, Utica NY (2014); the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena MT (2014); Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood WA (2012); and the Ox-Bow School, Saugatuck MI (2017/2008). Recent exhibitions include; Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, NY (2017); Art Palace Gallery (2016); Lawndale Art Center, Houston TX (2015); Natural Beauties: Jewelry from Art Nouveau to Now, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT (2014); The Old Jail Art Center, Albany TX (2013); the Texas Biennial (2011 & 2013); Old Post Office Museum and Art Center, Graham TX (2012); Co-lab Projects, Austin, TX (2012) and the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle WA (2011).