NORMAN — The community came together Thursday night to celebrate the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and distinguished artist Christine McHorse whose exhibit “Dark Light: the Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse” will open to the public Sept. 14.
Garth Clark, international art historian, author and founder of the nonprofit group Ceramics Arts Foundation, served as keynote speaker of the Wylodean Saxon Lecture and provided insight and a sense of meaning into McHorse’s exhibit.
McHorse’s works utilize the dynamics of architecture tectonics such as shape, mass, volume and lines. Each piece is radically different, Clark said.
“Her work has an extraordinary feeling of unity,” Clark said. “People do not necessarily see her work as native.”
Although McHorse studied pottery and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts, McHorse did not grow up with a focus on her Navajo heritage. Clark said McHorse’s works show influence of her Navajo roots and the Taos, N.M., area, where she studied pottery under an apprenticeship with Lena Archuleta, but her works have never been confined by taste, tradition or clay.
To create her pieces, McHorse uses mica-rich clay that she harvests from riverbeds in northern New Mexico and fires to a black sheen. The unique nature of the mica-rich clay produces a form with both shadows and highlights that inspired the name “Dark Light.”
With flowing, unbroken lines, most pieces are coiled in one continuous process, making them very different from traditional pottery that is cut and joined.
Clark explained that after many years of creating more traditional cooking vessels, McHorse decided to leave utility and tradition behind to pursue the shapes that had always haunted her.
“Christine feels the clay was her destiny from the outset,” Clark said.
Lecture attendee Brennah Jones, 18, an OCCC student of Norman, said even though she wasn’t particularly interested in ceramics, she was interested in art in general and was excited to hear about McHorse.